Americans facing the toughest housing market in years aren’t just facing high property prices and rising mortgage rates — they’re also grappling with the risk of natural disasters, such as floods, tornadoes and, increasingly, wildfires.
Climate change is making fires more intense and frequent. This is because vegetation is being dried out, and therefore makes fires more likely and longer to burn. It’s also increasing wildfire danger in areas that have temperate and humid climates.
According to data from First Street Foundation, Florida has the third highest number of properties that are at risk of fire after Texas and California. Today, 3.9 million properties in the state — or 4 in 10 — face some risk of wildfire, according to First Street. According to First Street, California has the highest number of properties at risk from wildfire, with 4.6 million, while Texas boasts 4.5 million.
Nationwide, First Street’s research shows about 26 million homes have at least some wildfire risk — a much greater number than has previously been reported.
The risk of property fire is much greater in other Western states. Two-thirds (Wyoming and New Mexico) of all properties are at risk from fire. Nearly 60% of properties in Arizona and Utah have a moderate to high fire hazard, while only half of those in Montana and Oklahoma have a moderate or higher chance.
First Street, which quantified theThe nation’s infrastructure was assessed and a 1% risk for 30 years was chosen (the life of a typical mortgage) to provide a floor that shows the potential damage from fire. First Street’s chief researcher, Jeremy Porter, stated that while there are fewer homes at risk than other disasters such as flooding, the potential damage from fire is more severe.
Porter stated that if a fire touches your property, it doesn’t mean you’re seeing $20,000 in damage. It’s total loss. It’s difficult to comprehend the scale of the damage.”
First Street’s research shows that wildfire risks are likely to grow in the next 30 year — especially in areas not currently known for wildfires.
Sara Brinton, Realtor.com’s lead product manager, stated that wildfire risk is rising in areas people might not expect. “Wildfire is something that people are familiar with in California and Colorado. But, it’s becoming a bigger problem in Florida. North Carolina and New Jersey.
Realtor.com has assigned a wildfire risk score for every property on its site in the continental U.S. — including those that aren’t for sale — to educate homeowners and potential buyers, Brinton said. The feature will eventually be available for rental. Scores take into consideration the characteristics of a building that makes it more likely to burn. This includes its layout, proximity to vegetation and what kind of windows it has.
Ed Kearns is the chief data officer at First Street. “Single-pane or dual-pane windows can make a difference in whether a house will burn during a wildfire,” he said. Attic vents with metal screens can improve a house’s ability to resist wildfire.
With climate change making natural disasters like floods, mudslides, and wildfires more common, homebuyers are now more concerned about their property’s vulnerability to these types of events. HarrisX and Realtor.com surveyed more than three-quarters of recent homebuyers to find out that they consider natural disasters in their decision making process when buying a house.
Sara Brinton is the lead product manager at Realtor.com.
Realtor.com created a flood risk feature two years ago that shows the likelihood of flooding damage to all properties. Brinton says it’s now one of the most requested features on the site.
The warming climate makes it more likely that fires will be lit
Climate change is a result of the burning of fossil fuels. This makes drought more likely in areas like the Southeast and other parts on the East Coast that are not known for their firepower. The effects of hotter temperatures on forested areas can dry them out and make it more difficult for fire to catch and spread.
He stated that fuel can be combustible within 100 hours of being dried under hot conditions.
Although Eastern fires are less common than those in the West, they can be as destructive as in the West. However, the East has a greater population and thousands could be affected. Matthew Eby is First Street’s executive Director. He said that as the climate warms, fire risks will increase.
“The last five years have been horrific, and that’s kind of the new norm — over the next few decades it’s only going to get more intense,” he said.
Source: CBS News