More people are moving to areas with high risk of wildfire

Posted at 1:56 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 18:51:30-04 has added a new fire factor rating to every property on its website as wildfire risk across the country increases.

The data shows that 1 in 6 US homes, or 30 million, are at risk of being involved in a wildfire in the next 30 years.

“The risk is across the country,” said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association. “It isn’t just in the mountains and the foothills. We’re seeing it in urban and suburban areas.”

A dramatic number of homes included in wildfire risk areas is what is called the wildland-urban interface, the area where sprawling suburban life meets natural wildland areas.

Wildland-urban interfaces often have vegetation and trees that are more prone to drying out in a warming climate, so when a fire does break out, the amount of land that burns increases significantly.

This map from the First Street Foundation, which uses for its fire factor rating, shows how these areas are set to increase in risk over the next 30 years. The darker the red, the more at risk the area is to a wildfire.

The interesting part is instead of shrinking in population, these wildland-urban interfaces are booming. According to the business magazine Fast Company, the number of people living in the wildland-urban interface doubled from 1990 to 2010, with it’s largest gains in the southeast United States.

“Just because your state hasn’t had [a wildfire] yet, the risk is there, and so that’s an understanding that you’re going to have to get better acquainted with understanding your risk, identify your risk, and really look at what do I need to do on my property and in my community to reduce that risk level,” said Walker.

In 2020, California introduced a bill that would give up to $10,000 in tax credits to homeowners who performed mitigation acts around their homes by removing combustible materials, creating fuel breaks, and trimming tree limbs. In April of this year, Colorado passed a similar bill.


Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate.

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist:

  • Face masks or coverings
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Prescriptions or special medications
  • Change of clothing
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
  • Don’t forget pet food and water!

Items to take if time allows:

  • Easily carried valuables
  • Family photos and other irreplaceable items
  • Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
  • Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.

Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night.