In recent years, small towns, like Malden, Washington, have become victim to catastrophic fires that burned around them.

Matthew Carroll.

The three main factors that are leading to greater fire risk are a changing climate including hotter temperatures and drought, vegetative conditions and people choosing to live in homes built in or near forests, said Washington State University professor, school of the environment, Matthew Carroll, who studies how communities in the West can better adapt to “megafires.”

Conditions with large unkempt forest floors and debris have only gotten worse over the years as the techniques for fighting fire focused mostly on suppression and not about preventing it through prescribed burns or thinning trees, Carroll said.

The Legislature passed a bill last session that will direct $125 million every two years for forest health and wildfire prevention. That money will be broken down into three buckets: wildfire response, forest health and community resilience.

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