A report in USA Today throws the spotlight on just how many homes in California are vulnerable to wildfire.
Data from the U.S. Forest Service cited by USA Today reveals that one-third of homes in California are located in areas prone to wildfires.
Apparently the Forest Service’s report estimates that 4.5 million homes in California are located in areas designated as the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI)–developments and communities adjacent to forests.
USA Today goes on to note that California wildfires have destroyed more than 750 houses and hundreds of other buildings in the past week based on figures from CalFire, the state’s firefighting agency.
The Valley fire near Sacramento has been one of the most destructive. Mark C. Bove, senior research meteorologist with Munich Re America tweeted that for Northern California the Valley Fire is likely the biggest wildfire event in terms of insured loss since the Oakland firestorm of 1991.
In a media advisory the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) notes that seven of the 10 costliest wildfires in U.S. history in terms of insured losses have occurred in California. The costliest of these was the 1991 Oakland fire which produced $2.7 billion in claims (in 2014 dollars).
Over the 20-year period 1995 to 2014, fires—including wildfires—accounted for 1.5 percent of insured catastrophe losses, totaling about $6.0 billion, according to the Property Claims Services (PCS) unit of ISO.
Janet Ruiz, I.I.I.’s Northern California-based representative, is available to conduct interviews in person or via Skype. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 490-9375.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers tips on how to protect your property from wildfire here.
A 2015 study by CoreLogic identifies almost 900,000 residential properties across 13 states in the western U.S. —representing an estimated combined total property value of more than $237 billion—at high or very high risk of wildfire damage.