With over 650,000 acres burned by 7,000 fires, wildfire in California this year is the worst it has been since the early 1990s. The same can be said for all other states in the West. How bad is it? Click here for a link to a map that shows — in real time — the fires still plaguing the west.
A report from the U.S. Forest Service said expansion of housing near forests in the region known as the wildland-urban interface (WUI) is a big contributor to the high cost of wildfire. Between 2000 and 2010 the number of structures in the WUI grew by 5%. In 2010 the number of structures in the WUI hit 44 million. That is one in every three houses in the country.
And since 2010 that number has increased significantly. The highest concentration of WUI intrusion is California.
This is in terms of insurance costs, replacement of housing costs and the cost of fighting fire. Outside of actually battling a blaze, officials have to make sure firefighters, firefighting equipment, aircraft, etc. need to be close by to fight a fire when it starts. In 2015 the U.S. Forest Service spent 52% of its budget fighting fire. That’s up 16% from 1995.
How bad is it? The cost of fighting fire hit $243 million in one week in August and complicating the cost is a growing wildfire season because of the ongoing drought.
A couple of very destructive fires hit Northern California last week and on Sunday. One just north of San Francisco destroyed 162 homes — this is at press time on Monday morning — and raised fire’s total to 1,050. This brings the total of the two fires to 1,600. In addition, five people died in one fire and two in the other.
At the time this is written on Monday morning, another 6,500 homes are threatened.
Source links: MSN & insurancejournal.com