Wildlfire Danger Update: Is Your Home One of 46 Million at Risk?

By John Voket

Last year, I began following the issue of wildfire threats and the potential risks more property owners may be taking as they move into areas designated as Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI).

The issue was a recent subject of a notice straight from the White House, confirming that the increase in wildfires is particularly dangerous in WUI zones, where houses, structures and people are at risk of loss, injury and death.

So, how many homes are we talking about here? Short answer: the WUI now contains 46 million single family homes, several hundred thousands of businesses, and a population of more than 120 million.

Since 1990, 60 percent of new homes built in the United States have been built in the WUI, increasing the amount of land at risk in the by 4,000 acres per day, nearly 2 million acres per year, according to the report. Many of those homes and businesses located in the WUI are at greater risk from wildfire because of the impacts of climate change, threatening both structures and lives.

As fire risks in these areas increase, the report says government agencies continue to partner with fire professionals and local leaders to increase understanding of "how wildfires interact with communities in terms of structures, terrain, and weather."

Taking aim at this increasing wildfire risk, including properties in the WUI, the President’s FY 2016 Budget proposal would provide the necessary resources for the U.S. Forest Service as well as the Department of the Interior to address wildfire suppression and rehabilitation needs without resorting to detrimental transfers from other critical forest landscape resilience priorities, the report says.

As more and more agency resources are spent each year to provide the firefighters, aircraft, and other assets necessary to protect lives, property, and natural resources from catastrophic wildfires, the report says fewer funds and resources are available for other agency work - including the very programs and restoration projects that reduce fire threats on public and private land.

So whether it's a change in the way property is insured, built, located or taxed - the increasing threat of WUI wildfires is going to have some direct impact on nearly 50 million homeowners in the coming years. As a result, I will continue to bring you regular reporting and updates on this important issue.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.


 Janet & Graham Ford SRES MSA CSP e-Pro Broker & Associate
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