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Climate Change Could Lead To Increased Wildfire Threat To Florida Properties

MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) - As if hurricane season didn't give us enough to worry about, a new study shows an increased risk from wildfires in the coming years.

On Monday, the nonprofit First Street Foundation released a nationwide wildfire risk assessment that shows homeowners and business owners how at-risk their property is to wildfire.

Their research suggests that due to climate change, Florida's risk for wildfires could double within 30 years. Matthew Eby, executive director of the nonprofit climate research group, said its modeling shows Florida's current 6% of properties at risk from wildfires could jump to 12% by 2052, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald

According to a map created based on the data, the most increased risk is in the West where scientists say hot and dry conditions are exacerbated by human-made climate change. Western states as well as those in the Plains are experiencing drier and hotter weather, which dries out vegetation and creates more fuel for fire.

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(CBS4)

However, Florida ranked high because we're expected to stay hotter for more days of the year with climate change. Also, because of all the development, Florida has more pieces of property at risk than in other states, where thousands of acres may count as one property, according to the Miami Herald.

"The risk is going to be increasing so much in the Appalachian and southeastern areas," said Ed Kearns, First Street's chief data officer. "When you're in these areas, you see green forests and green trees. In Florida and other parts of the Southeast, this kind of climate change looks different than it does out West, but fire is every bit as dangerous."

In South Florida, researchers found the biggest risk is for homes near the eastern border of the Everglades, according to the Miami Herald.

The Florida Forest Service said fire season, like hurricane season, has a peak that's usually April and May. Most of the state's wildfires and brush fires are started by lightning strikes and spread by the wind. As of Monday, most of the state was ranked at "moderate" fire risk".

(©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)

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