COLORADO, USA — Developers built tens of thousands of new homes in Colorado's riskiest areas for wildfires over the past decade, while local and state forest officials allowed wildfire protection plans across the state to age to the point they may no longer remain effective.
>> Video above: Smoke from 900 miles away can still be harmful to health
An analysis by The Gazette shows some of the most vulnerable areas of the state rely on some of the state’s oldest wildfire protection plans, putting those areas in peril for wildfire devastation.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, over the past decade, more than 2,000 homes, going from about 15,000 to about 17,000 homes, have been built in the top 1% areas of the state most at risk for wildfires, using wildfire burn probability data available from the U.S. Forest Service. At least one-third of those new homes are in areas without a fire mitigation plan updated in the past five years.
In the riskiest 5% of the state, more than 23,000 new homes have been built, bulging from about 100,000 homes to about 123,000. At least 70% of those new homes are in areas with plans that haven’t been updated in five years or more.
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