Fire in the South 2

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This publication explains the objectives of the Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment, presents the key findings, and demonstrates through case studies some of its practical applications.

The South is one of the fastest growing regions in the nation, with an estimated population growth of 1.5 million people per year. The South also consistently has the highest number of wildfires per year. Population growth is pushing housing developments further into natural and forested areas where most of these wildfires occur. This situation puts many lives and communities at risk each year. For example, in 2006 most of the wildfires that occurred in Texas were less than two miles from a community. In that same year, the 10-year average of fires from October through March in a three parish area near New Orleans was 2,350 fires, which burned 27,000 acres.
The frequency of fires occurring in the South is highly variable, due in large part to the variability in weather patterns. Dry weather patterns can increase fire frequency and fire size; for example:

■    During 2007, Tennessee had one of the worst droughts in its history and by June, 2,000 fires had burned 33,000 acres, which is a typical amount for an entire year.
■    For one 30-day period during the dry spring fire season of 2004, Georgia averaged more than 100 wildfires per day.


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