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Posted: 2017-04-17 19:25:00

Communities across the Western U.S. and Canada may have to adapt to living with the ever-increasing threat of catastrophic wildfires as global warming heats up and dries out forests across the West, according to a University of Colorado study published Monday.

Residents living in neighborhoods adjacent to forests — known as “wildland-urban interface” zones — will have to accept that many wildfires may have to be allowed to burn and that building new homes in fire-prone forests should be discouraged, the study says.

The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire in eastern Alberta.
Credit: The Premier of Alberta/flickr

Firefighters and policymakers will also have to adapt in new ways as catastrophic wildfires burn more land and destroy more homes than ever before.

Officials have long tried to cut wildfire risk by spending billions of dollars annually to “manage fuels” — physically removing some trees and underbrush from dense forests and intentionally setting some forests ablaze in controlled “prescribed

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