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Common Sense & Weather Make for Good Wildfire Forecast — But Don’t Let Your Guard Down

In February, California-based research firm CoreLogic released its 2015 Wildfire Risk analysis, reporting that in the Western United States, there are nearly 900,000 homes considered at “high” or “very high” risk from wildfires, representing an estimated total reconstruction cost of more than $237 billion.1

Not surprisingly, one of the West’s riskiest regions is the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area, where 17,860 homes are at “very high” risk, representing more than $5.35 billion in reconstruction value.

Overall, Colorado has 49,667 homes considered “very high” risk, followed by Texas (35,016), Oregon (13,788), Idaho (11,078), Montana (9,601) and Arizona (8,089). California leads all states in this category with 50,905 homes.

As for homes in the “high risk” category, Colorado ranks fourth (behind Texas, California, and Oregon) with 50,009 homes.

To indicate the level of susceptibility to wildfire, the report assigns risk scores for properties from 1 to 100, with scores in the 81-100 range signifying homes in the “very high” risk category.

shutterstock_112221542With large swaths of the Western United States in the throes of an ongoing drought, it’s quite surprising that 2014 saw the second fewest number of major wildfires over the past two decades, recording the second lowest total for acreage burned in the last 10 years, according to the report.

CoreLogic senior hazard scientist Tom Jeffery cited luck and well-timed precipitation as reasons for the better than expected fire season last year, but he also credits homeowners for taking the initiative by mitigating the potential risks by doing things like removing excess brush, treating wooden structures, and trimming nearby trees.2

With the 2015 fire season in full swing, special districts shouldn’t count on luck and timely precipitation again this year. Pool members can take advantage of their available Safety and Loss Prevention Grant Program funds for fire mitigation services, so check with your local fire departments and landscaping companies to inquire about these services available in your area.

Coloradoans probably don’t need reminding, but the state’s 2012 wildfire season was a particularly rough one. Colorado fire departments reported 4,167 wildland fires through the National Fire Reporting System.

These fires destroyed more than 648 structures, killed six civilians, burned more than 384,803 acres, and caused at least $538 million in property losses.3

We urge you to take stock of your district’s property and its susceptibility to wildfires, taking steps to mitigate risks that may be preventable.

Resources:

1 CoreLogic’s Wildfire Hazard Risk Report
2 Insurance Journal – Report: Wildfire Reconstruction of West’s Riskiest Homes – $237B
3 Denver Post: 4,167 Colorado Wildfires Caused Record Losses of $538 Million in 2012

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