Thursday, December 05, 2019

Who is at Risk from Wildfire?

The risk of wildfires in California is increasing with global heating. Most experts now say that wildfire season in the state lasts all year long. Which means that it is more important than ever before to be able to identify where people's lives are most at risk from wildfire.

Last year the LA Times used the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's high-risk fire zones to map where homes are most at risk from wildfire. In A million California buildings face wildfire risk the LA Times created a series of hexagon density maps showing the concentration of buildings in severe fire hazard zones. The LA Times map shows the areas in California with the largest concentrations of endangered homes.

However a map of buildings at risk is not necessarily a perfect guide to where most people are at risk from wildfires. According to Direct Relief the majority of people killed by the Camp Fire in Paradise last November were the elderly, disabled and poor. According to FEMA people over 65 years of age are 2.5 times more likely to die in a fire than younger people. People with disabilities also have a relatively higher risk than the able bodied. There is also evidence to suggest that those living in poverty have a harder time evacuating fire risk zones than the rest of the population.

Because social vulnerability plays such a large role in determining a person's risk from wildfire Direct Relief has created a new interactive map which identifies the Californian communities which are most vulnerable to wildfires. The Californian Wildfires: Social Vulnerability Risk map uses the CDC's Social Vulnerability index to identify where there are significant numbers of the elderly, disabled and poor living in Very High Fire Severity Zones. On the map communities with over 1,000 people in Very High Fire Severity Zones are colored to show the numbers living in the community who are deemed socially vulnerable. 

The Direct Relief map also includes a layer which shows the wildfire hazard potential across the whole state of California.

No comments: