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Report: More than 1 million homes in the West face high wildfire risk
By Insure.com staff

More than 1.2 million homes in the West are highly at risk for wildfire damage, according to a new report from CoreLogic, a property analytics firm headquartered in Irvine, Calif.

Spread across 13 states, the properties are valued at $189 billion. Among them, some 268,000 homes worth $41 billion are at "very high risk."

Colorado, California and Texas have the most properties at very high risk, and of seven metropolitan areas analyzed, Los Angeles has the most single-family homes at high or very high risk.

Wildfires happen throughout much of the country, but are more common in the 13 western states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Last year, 87.5 percent of the total acreage lost to wildfire in the contiguous U.S. occurred in the West, according to the report.

As cities expand into undeveloped areas, where trees and brush provide plenty of fuel for fires, a growing number of homes are at risk for wildfire damage. From 1990 to 2008, about 10 million of the 17 million homes built were constructed near wild areas, where fire risk is high, CoreLogic said.

"Just because your home is located within a city boundary does not necessarily mean you are safe from wildfire destruction if there is wildland vegetation nearby," Thomas Jeffery, senior hazard scientist for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions, said in a press statement. "Wind-blown embers can travel hundreds or even thousands of feet and ignite homes located far away from an actual fire."

In its report, CoreLogic classified properties according to low, moderate, high or very high risk for wildfire damage, based on their terrain, vegetation and fuel for fire. Researchers also assigned properties a risk score from 1 to 100 based on their proximity to areas highly at risk for wildfire.

The southern Rockies and South Central U.S. contain the most homes facing wildfire risk. In those regions, 145,361 properties are at very high risk, and 915,374 properties have a risk score higher than 81, indicating the highest level of risk, according to the report.

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