More than 740,000 residences in the western U.S., with estimated value of more than $136 billion, are at “high” or “very high” risk of sustaining damage from a wildfire, with 168,000 of the “very high” risk residences valued at more than $32 billion, according to a new report by CoreLogic.
CoreLogic focused on the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), the area where urban development and wildland meet. Fires are most often attributed to wildland areas, so the best way to recognize high-risk residential structures is to locate the WUI.
CoreLogic has several methods of evaluating wildfire risk. The initial step is to divide risk in categories based on fairly stable variables such as terrain, fuel and vegetation. Terrain aspects, such as the direction a slope faces and how steep it is, contribute to how fast a fire can move. Fuel and vegetation density indicate how intense a wildfire might become.
CoreLogic uses these variables to determine Low, Moderate, High and Very High risk categories. Urban and agricultural areas are defined separately because of an absence of natural fuels and the resulting lower risk profile. This risk model does not factor in short term changes in climate and weather. It is not designed to identify ignition points or predict a current fire’s progression.