16,000 Homes In San Diego County At High Wildfire Risk
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Aired 10/10/13 on KPBS News.
More than 16,000 homes in San Diego County are at a high risk for wildfire damage, with nearly 4,500 of those vulnerable properties located in Julian, Ramona and Alpine.
More than 16,000 homes in San Diego County are at a high risk for wildfire damage, with nearly 4,500 of those vulnerable properties located in Julian, Ramona and Alpine, according to a new report.
The 2013 CoreLogic Wildfire Hazard Risk Report examined the residential properties potentially exposed to wildfire risk in 13 Western states.
The high risk homes in San Diego County represent a combined total property value estimated at $2.5 billion.
San Diego’s high-risk homes aren’t necessarily located within wildfire-prone areas, but they are within reach of wind-blown embers, said Thomas Jeffery, senior hazard scientist with CoreLogic.
"We’re all familiar with how ember storms can actually effect fire ignition on structures, and so I think our data does a really good job of identifying the risk — not just on the property — but in and around the property as well," said Jeffery.
Jeffery said the number of high-risk homes in San Diego County is on the rise, partly due to the resurgence of new home construction along mountainous and brushy areas.
"Almost by necessity, those homes are put on the edge of urban areas," Jeffery explained. "So your property may not have the risk on it, but you’re close enough on those urban fringes — the wildland-urban interface — that you can also be at a tremendously high risk."
Of the major cities analyzed in the report, Los Angeles is home to the most single-family residences exposed to wildfire risk, with more than 60,000 properties in the high or very high risk categories.
San Diego was hit with two major wildfires in 2003 and 2007 that destroyed 3,600 homes, killed 25 people, and caused billions of dollars in property damage.