DENVER (KDVR) — After a wildfire in the West, the same terrain could burn again in as soon as 10 to 20 years, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Denver.
The study looked at nearly 30 years of wildfires from California to Colorado. This includes the biggest wildfire in Colorado’s history, the 2002 Hayman Fire, which burned nearly 215 square miles, burned 133 homes and was responsible for killing six people.
“This is not a place that should be considered a fire break any longer,” said Dr. Brian Buma, an assistant professor of integrative biology at CU Denver who worked on the study for about a year.
“We found that typically across the entire U.S. West, you get a reprieve essentially of being likely to burn again for about 10 to 20 years, depending on your location,” Buma said.
That time is longer in Colorado and shorter in California.
It’s one reason why so many experts say fire mitigation is a must. That’s now a topic in Colorado’s legislative session.
State Rep. Lisa Cutter, a Democrat from Jefferson County, is sponsoring two bills to help with fire mitigation.
One bill would help raise money to get matching grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for both fire and flood mitigation. The other bill would create a tax credit for people who pay for fire mitigation.
“It saves money, it saves homes, it saves lives,” said Cutter, talking about fire mitigation. “It’s so much less costly for us to spend the time, the money and the resources up front to prevent disaster.”