New assessment tool shows Bay Area counties with the highest wildfire risk

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The risk of enduring a wildfire at your home is going to double in the next 30 years, according to a new nationwide model on wildfire risk assessment.

The First Street Foundation just released a first-of-its-kind analysis of the wildfire risk for individual properties nationwide, creating hundreds of millions of simulations using data on local topography, climate metrics and building footprints.

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“We focused our metrics on properties specifically and also on the term of a mortgage because our goal was to make it meaningful to individuals,” said chief of research Jeremy Porter. “We found that on average the risk associated with wildfire and burn probabilities are going to double over the next 30 years on average. As wildfires grow in terms of the area they cover, the intensity of those wildfires is going to distribute more embers and that opens up the reach of the wildfire exposure.”

In the Bay Area the steepest increase in risk was in Marin, Napa and most noticeably in Sonoma County.

While doing things to protect your home will help, the study concluded that a community-wide effort is needed to create a real firewall. One option is to greatly increase the number of controlled burns, according to a study released out of U.C. Irvine.

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“Our study shows that winter and spring are feasible times of the year that more prescribed burns should be done to help mitigate these extreme wildfires that we could see in the future,” said Kanine Ann Baijnath-Rodino with U.C. Irvine’s Environmental Engineering Department.

The problem is climate change- including low humidity and erratic wind patterns- is reducing the number of days a year that a prescribed burn could be safely done.

To get a fire risk assessment of your home, visit here.

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