A new report from property information and analytics provider CoreLogic has found that nearly 776,000 homes in the US are at extreme risk of wildfire damage this year, representing a potential reconstruction cost value of more than $221 billion.
California metropolitan areas comprise a significant portion of the top 15 regions identified in the study, with the Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego areas ranking as the top three high-risk areas, respectively.
These regions are home to more than 42% of residences at high-to-extreme wildfire risk in the top 15 metropolitans, and also claim more than 51% of the total reconstruction cost value in this group.
“It’s no surprise that California tops the list of the most homes at high- to-extreme wildfire risk, given the state’s size and population density, as well as the popularity of residential expansion into the wildland urban interface,” said Tom Jeffery, senior hazard scientist at CoreLogic.
“The high density of homes located in wildfire-susceptible areas only increases the threat of future catastrophic events and the possibility of billion-dollar losses,” he added.
CoreLogic’s report analyses homes currently at risk of wildfire damage in the western US, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
It noted that 2018 was a record-breaking year for US wildfire with 8,767,492 acres burned, representing the sixth-highest total since modern records began in the mid-1900s.
California, Nevada and Oregon topped the list for most acreage burned in 2018, with a combined total of 3.72 million acres burned in the three states.
In California, 2017 and 2018 caused more wildfire-related property damage than the state has experienced in any two consecutive years of its history.
“The past few years of wildfire activity tell us we’re not only seeing a continuation of the intense fires and associated destruction in the United States, but an escalation of these events,” said Shelly Yerkes, wildfire senior product manager at CoreLogic.
“The continuing presence of the factors responsible for recent wildfires are an ominous indicator that the coming years could see more of the same record-breaking destruction.”