(CNN)"We are living in a tinderbox," says Reinette Senum.
Senum is the vice mayor of Nevada City. Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, 147 miles northeast of San Francisco, the town's streets are lined with characterful wooden houses that date back to the late 19th century.
Senum is terrified that Nevada City -- home to 3,100 people -- will go up in flames.
Wildfires are a growing problem in California -- 15 of the 20 largest fires since 1932 have taken place in the last 20 years. As climate change makes California's weather ever hotter and drier, this trend is set to continue.
According to the US National Climate Assessment, climate change is responsible for half of the forestland burned by wildfire in western states since the mid 1980s, and burned areas in southwest California could double by 2050.
Nevada City is especially vulnerable because it is a patchwork of urban streets and forests -- with no separation between the two. Senum says that the 450 acres of wild land within the city limits are "choked" with overgrown -- and highly combustible -- vegetation.
Senum had been investigating ways to reduce the town's fire risk for years but Camp Fire, which killed 85 people in northern California, and incinerated the town of Paradise last November, spurred her efforts. Paradise is less than 80 miles from Nevada City and the tragedy there was a "call to action," says Senum.