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  • Writer's pictureWildfire Aware

The West is Burning: A Closer Look at the Increase in Wildfire Damage



It's no secret that the Western United States has been plagued by relentless wildfires over the past several years. In 2022 alone, a total of 2,717 structures were reported destroyed by wildfires, including 1,261 residences, 1,294 minor structures, and 91 commercial/mixed residential structures. In a new study, ‘Shifting social-ecological fire regimes explain increasing structure loss from Western wildfires’ found that from 1999-2009 to 2010-2020 there was a staggering 246% increase in the number of homes and structures destroyed by wildfires in the contiguous Western U.S., indicating an alarming trend. Let's break down what this means for homeowners and communities throughout the region.


The Devastating Costs of Wildfires

Wildfires are destructive forces that can cause serious economic damage to individuals and communities alike. According to research teams analysis of wildfire destruction in California between 2010 and 2020 alone show that uninsured losses totaled $5 billion dollars—an astonishing figure when you consider that this was only 10 years of data! That doesn't even include insured losses resulting from damaged or destroyed homes or property.


The Impact on Communities

It's not just individuals who suffer due to wildfire destruction; entire towns and regions can be decimated as well. Take Paradise, CA as an example—in 2018 it was nearly destroyed by the Camp Fire which killed 85 people and left thousands homeless. This tragedy was just one of many instances across California during this time period highlighting how destructive these blazes can be for entire communities. Additionally, with so much loss comes increased rebuilding costs for local governments who are often stretched too thin to cover these expenses without assistance from state or federal sources.


What Can We Do?

In order to properly address wildfire destruction in the West we must take a comprehensive approach which includes both prevention efforts such as proper forest management practices as well as mitigation strategies such as installing fire resistant construction materials when building homes in high risk areas. Additionally, more work needs to be done to make sure homeowners have adequate insurance coverage so they don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for damages caused by these fires. All of these steps must be taken together if we hope to see any real change in terms of reducing the amount of destruction caused by future wildfires across the region.


Wildfires have become increasingly frequent and destructive across the Western United States over the past decade with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Research shows that there has been an alarming 246% increase in home and structure destruction due to these blazes since 1999-2009 compared with 2010-2020 – indicating that something must be done now before things get worse! We need comprehensive approaches incorporating prevention measures like proper forestry management techniques alongside mitigation strategies like using more fire resistant building materials if we want any chance at reducing wildfire destruction in coming years. Only then will those affected by these disasters get some reprieve from their devastating effects on individuals and communities alike!

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