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New-Home Construction in Areas at Risk of Wildfire

According to data related to wildfires, new homes continue to be constructed in high risk areas. Cape Analytics used artificial intelligence to analyze wide swaths of geospatial imagery to help insurers and other companies better understand properties and property risk, the company reported.

"We wanted to explore exactly how much sprawl there has been in the West’s high-risk fire zones. From the standpoint of insurance and danger to human life, these homes and adjacent communities are especially risky," Cape Analytics reported. "Quantifying the risk can help homeowners and agencies ... take more proactive and focused measures to protect lives and property."

California leads the West when it comes to the most builds in high-risk areas, Cape Analytics reported.

"Given that California is the most populous state in the country, we can expect a lot of new construction. When adjusting for population size, Utah leads the West by a significant margin in building homes in places with high fire risks."

Here are some of the numbers they uncovered—number of new homes built in the last decade in high-risk states:

  • Oregon 216
  • Montana 327
  • Washington 489
  • Idaho 690
  • Nevada 1,065
  • Arizona 1,273
  • Colorado 1,956
  • Utah 6,144
  • California 10,222

In its study, the company also accounted for the "size question."

"We’ve adjusted by population, to see where states are building more homes in wildfire zones at the highest per capita rate (per 100,000 residents). After adjusting for population size, it becomes
clear that Utah has the most home building activity in high fire risk zones in the West." The per capita numbers are broken down here.

To break it down even further, Cape Analytics looked at the cities with the most new homes built in high wildfire risk zones.

Below, see cities in the analysis with highest number of new builds in fire zones:

  • El Dorado Hills, California  1,415
  • St. George, Utah 1,092
  • Lake Elsinore, California 855
  • San Bernadino, California 778
  • Hurricane, Utah 670
  • Murrieta, California 591
  • Menifee, California 572
  • Temecula, California 544
  • Washington, Utah 511
  • Eagle Mountain, Utah 473

The rest of the study, along with methodology and further information can be found here in the complete document.


About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at [email protected].

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