Americans Are Moving Into Danger Zones
Folks are flocking to areas plagued with wildfires and extreme heat
Where the wild meets civilization and the natural world fades into the built environment lies a zone called the “wildland-urban interface.” Think the foothills of California, or the lush forests of the Eastern United States, where trees, grasses, and shrubs intermingle with homes, roads, and other infrastructure.
From a fire safety perspective, this is a problem. Wildfires in the Western US have become increasingly devastating in part because of climate change, but also because more humans are moving deeper and deeper into areas that were once intact forests. The overlap between civilization and wildlands exposes more people to fires and provides more opportunities to spark them—flicking cigarettes out of car windows and installing power lines that jostle in the wind.
In fact, Americans are “flocking to fire,” say the authors of a study that publishes today in the journal Frontiers in Human Dynamics. Using census data, the researchers found that people are moving en masse to areas increasingly prone to catastrophic wildfires or plagued by extreme heat.
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