SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — For years, you’ve been able to check your home’s flood risk. But, in most cases, it was difficult to determine your home’s wildfire risk.
A new report released by a nonprofit research and technology group is working to change that — and define America’s climate risk.
First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit climate research group recently released its wildfire model, which gives a closer look at the risk of individual properties across the country.
The model allows you to enter a home’s zip code and see the wildfire risk the property faces.
The fire risk over the next 30 years in Charleston, West Virginia, for example, is considered moderate, but across the country in Reno, Nevada, the risk is extreme.
Sacramento, California, also has a moderate wildfire risk, but firefighters are battling more fires than usual.
“You’re already seeing in May we are getting more fires than normal, and it’s not a good sign,” a local firefighter in Sacramento told Nexstar’s KTXL.
A new report suggests that the wildfire risk on the West Coast is growing for some communities.
“People are buying, selling and renting homes and deciding where to live without understanding what risk really is,” said Dr. Ed Kearns with First Street Foundation.
The model shows the potential wildfire risk over the next 30 years ranging from minimal to extreme:
- Minimal: 0%
- Minor: 1%
- Moderate: 1-6%
- Major: 6-14%
- Severe: 14-26%
- Extreme: 26%+
“Of those 100 million simulations, we get about 9 to 10 million that grows to a model that is worth tracking and describing. We represent the fire hazard of three different variables: fire probability, fire intensity, and also ember speed,” Kerns explained.
The risk factor model also shows how many properties have some risk of being affected by wildfires over the next three decades, what is contributing to that risk, and any previous wildfire events in the area.
First Street Foundation said it gathered leading experts from fire, weather and climatology and analyzed data over the past years to determine properties’ wildfire risk probability.
“When you own a home for 30 years, you not only want to look at it from an annual risk but how does that compound over time,” Kerns said. “That’s what the first graph shows you. This home has a 32% chance of being in a wildfire over a 30-year period.”
The group has done models for flooding before, and are now turning their attention to wildfires because they believe the damage continues to grow each year.
“We already know wildfires are significant in the West, it’s high. There’s a higher likelihood in the West, there are more properties and a higher fire factor, of course. One of the things that is occurring over time, we are seeing dramatic growth across the Southeast and up the East Coast,” said Dr. Porter.
Wildfires are on a furious pace early this year — from a California hilltop where mansions with multimillion-dollar Pacific Ocean views were torched to remote New Mexico mountains charred by a month-old monster blaze. Nationally, more than 2,000 square miles already have burned this year. That’s the most at this point since 2018, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
To view your home’s wildfire and flood risk rating, click here. This data is also available on Realtor.com, Redfin, Crexi, and Estately to help homebuyers better understand the risks nature poses to their home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.