85% of California’s rural land now in ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk for wildfires, new analysis shows
The climate crisis is among the major factors in a new assessment that shows more than 85% of California’s rural and unincorporated land is now in “high” or “very high” severity fire danger zones, the report said. State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Cal Fire) was recently announced.
California’s proposed new Fire Danger Zone map, which analyzes only the land Cal Fire is responsible for and is used for things like building standards, real estate searches and future planning, is based on long-term data and is designed to last a decade. or more. The previous version, which was made in 2007, was considered outdated.
The amount of land in “very high” severity areas saw a significant increase, increasing by 14.6% in the new analysis. If the proposed map is approved, nearly 17 million acres — an area larger than the state of West Virginia — would be under Cal Fire’s worst designation.
“A lot has happened since 2007,” Cal Fire said in a release announcing the update. “Using the best available science with academic and other researchers, this updated map reflects the impacts of a changing climate and includes a number of other key factors.”
About 98% of California was in drought conditions this week, according to the US Drought Monitor, as the state remains in the grip of a multi-year mega-drought fueled by warmer temperatures and drier conditions.
Through 2018, California saw the largest, deadliest, and most destructive wildfires in the state’s history. In the past five years, California has seen an average of more than 7,000 wildfires each year, consuming an average of more than 2 million acres, according to data from the governor’s office.
The proposed map includes only rural and unincorporated areas — cities and large urban areas are excluded, but are expected to be added in an updated version next year.
Dozens of meetings to discuss the findings are scheduled over the next few weeks to allow for public comment before the map is officially approved.
“CAL FIRE fire scientists and fire mitigation experts developed the map using a science-based, field-tested model that assigns a risk score based on factors that affect fire likelihood and fire behavior. Many factors are taken into account considered, such as fire history, presence and potential fuel (natural vegetation), expected flame length, blowing embers, terrain, and typical fire weather for an area. These areas fall into the following classifications — medium, high and very high,” the agency explained.
Cal Fire said the new map should help communities tailor their planning and preparedness efforts for wildfires in the most vulnerable locations. The zones are also used to determine where protected space standards, wildland-urban interface building codes and State Minimum Fire Safety Regulations are required, according to Cal Fire.