In the past couple of decades, there has been an explosion of development in high-fire-risk areas. There’s a term for this in the firefighting world: the WUI, pronounced “wooey,” short for wildland urban interface. In states such as California, Arizona and Washington, cabins, vacation homes and increasingly whole towns and even cities are spreading into forests and wildlands.
Research from the Western think tank Headwaters Economics shows that in the West, there are millions of homes considered to be at direct risk of wildfires. There are no signs of this trend of building in the WUI slowing down, even as climate change is predicted to bring longer and hotter fire seasons.