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More than 90% of Montana homes vulnerable to wildfire in coming decades

The Pioneer Fire has been burning in Idaho since July, and hot, dry weather caused the fire to grow rapidly this week.
Wildfire has the potential to affect 93% of Montana homes over the next 30 years due to an increase in temperatures, drought conditions, changing humidity patterns and an abundance of fuels.

A new web tool that uses federal data to determine how vulnerable U.S. homes are to wildfire found the majority of Montana homes are at risk over the next three decades due to climate change.

Wildfire has the potential to affect 93% of Montana homes over the next 30 years due to an increase in temperatures, drought conditions, changing humidity patterns and an abundance of fuels, according to New-York-based First Street Foundation.

The research nonprofit this week launched the Fire Factor tool, which uses public information including data from the U.S. Forest Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to model wildfire risk to properties throughout the country.

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Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Fire Protection Bureau Chief Matt Hall says Montana has a long relationship with wildfires, but drought has exacerbated it.

"This makes our fuels more receptive to fire in both the ignition and spread components that wildfire exhibits across landscapes, both in grasses and timber," he said.

The Fire Factor tool shows most homes in Wyoming — around 98% — are also susceptible to future fire conditions.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.