2.9 million Coloradans now live in areas at risk of wildfire

DENVER — Forest managers say 2.9 million residents now live in areas at risk of wildfire in Colorado, up 45 percent over five years.

The State Forest Service released updated statistics Monday on the number of people who live in the wildland-urban interface, where homes are built near or within areas prone to wildland fire.

The last estimate, in 2013, said 2 million people lived in the wildland-urban interface.

The agency says three factors are behind the increase: More people moving into fire-prone areas, better data and changes in land use and vegetation patterns.

The new figures mean roughly half the state’s population lives in areas at risk of wildfire.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Colorado’s population at 5.6 million last year but the state has been growing rapidly.

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