US wildfire dangers spread east as climate risks rise


* Modeling reveals millions of properties at risk * Far eastern regions of today’s major wildfires are not immune

* Larger fires have strained firefighting resources By David Sherfinski

From New Jersey to Georgia, U.S. states thousands of miles from wildfire hotspots in the west face growing wildfire risk as global warming makes ‘safe havens’ more rarer, researchers warned Monday. Wildfires pose at least moderate risk to more than 30 million properties across the United States, according to modeling by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit that maps risk climatic.

“Wildfire risk is growing so much faster than even flood risk in the United States,” said Ed Kearns, the group’s chief data officer. “And it will likely affect areas that are not considered wildfire-prone areas at the moment, but soon will be.” Far beyond hard-hit states such as California and New Mexico, East Coast spots including South Carolina and North Carolina are among those with the most properties at risk from the fires. , according to the research.

He used a new model intended to give the home and other owners a detailed risk assessment of the climate-related threats facing their properties, including wildfires and floods . “This ability for an individual to sit down and type in their address and see what their risk is makes a personal connection between climate change and this dataset and their life,” Kearns said.

A handful of counties in Georgia, for example, were among those with the largest predicted increase in the share of properties with at least moderate wildfire risk by 2052. The researchers looked at about 140 million properties nationwide, including residential and commercial buildings. as well as vital infrastructure, including schools and airports.

They found that nearly 80 million of them face some degree of risk, with 30.4 million facing at least “moderate” risk. This corresponds to an annual “probability of fire” of 0.03% or more or at least a 1% cumulative chance of experiencing a forest fire over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

‘CHOOSE YOUR POISON’ Wildfire risk is far more widespread than researchers expected before creating the model, says Matthew Eby , founder and executive director of the First Street Foundation.

Western states that already face significant risk will see this worsen over time with climate change, including places like California, New Mexico and Colorado that are used to dealing with major fires, according to the report. But other places in the Midwest and South are already under threat, he noted. Both South Carolina and North Carolina are among the top US states for the number of properties with at least a moderate risk of experiencing a wildfire in 2022.

Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California who was not involved in the report, said it was difficult to escape the “negative” effects of rising temperatures. “No matter where you live, there’s something bad coming out of climate change – whether it’s fire or drought or bigger storms or heat waves – pick your poison,” he said.

Jonathon Golden, a former wildland firefighter, said people on the east coast were less accustomed to fires than people in the west. “Climate change is going to surprise a lot of people, and they’re going to see a lot of things that they’ve never seen before in their life,” he said.

Beyond the threat to life, livelihoods and property, the expanding danger zone threatens to put more pressure on federal firefighters to a time when many are sounding the alarm over low wages and dangerous working conditions. Traditionally, when fire work is complete in the west, federal resources move east to help with “hurricane service,” Golden said.

But now there could be a perfect storm lining up overlapping hurricane and fire seasons, he warned. “This will stress and strain resources capable of responding to both incidents at the same time,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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