Study reveals 900,000 homes at risk from wildfires

Study reveals 900,000 homes at risk from wildfires

26 February 2015

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USA —  According to new data released today by CoreLogic, nearly 900,000 single-family homes across 13 states in the western U.S. are currently designated at “High” or “Very High” risk for wildfire damage, representing a combined total reconstruction value estimated at more than $237 billion. Of the total homes identified, just over 192,000 homes fall into the “Very High Risk” category alone, with total reconstruction cost valued at more than $49.6 billion.

The CoreLogic Wildfire Risk analysis designates risk levels as “Very High,””High,””Moderate” and “Low.” Two additional categories, “Urban” and “Agriculture” indicate homes at even lower risk. Homes designated as “Urban” are located in areas with a dense concentration of buildings and infrastructure to such an extent that little natural vegetation exists to support a wildfire. Homes designated as “Agriculture” are located in areas comprised of row crops, orchards/vineyards or other specific land use that is typically irrigated. Even if it is not irrigated, the crops are nourished and healthy with no ground litter present, and therefore, the vegetation is unlikely to support or enhance a wildfire.

The analysis also assigns a numeric risk score to each property, ranging from 1 to 100. This separate score indicates the level of susceptibility to wildfire, as well as the risk associated with the property being located in close proximity to another high-risk property or area. The score designation is important since wildfire can easily expand to adjacent properties and cause significant damage even if that property was not originally considered high risk. When expanding the analysis to include the numeric score, more than 1.1 million homes fall under the highest Wildfire Risk Score segment (81-100), representing a combined potential reconstruction value of more than $268.5 billion

The states most commonly associated with wildfires also contain the most properties at risk. California, Colorado and Texas have the largest number of residential properties categorized as “Very High Risk,” with a combined reconstruction value exceeding $36 billion. Including homes located in the “High Risk” category, the reconstruction value is more than $188 billion for these three states. When analyzed by risk score, 816,515 homes with reconstruction costs valued at more than $206.5 billion fall into the highest risk segment of 81-100.

Limiting the evaluation to property-level risk strictly in the “Very High” category, California tops the list of states analyzed with a total of 50,905 homes falling into that group. Comparatively, when assigning the Wildfire Risk Score, Texas takes the top spot with 451,848 homes scoring in the 81-100 highest-risk range.

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