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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

CoreLogic Wildfire Risk Analysis Data Pinpoints High Risk Areas in the U.S.

 
April 2nd, 2015 by Susan Smith

CoreLogic recently released new wildfire data, the CoreLogic Wildfire Risk Analysis, that states that nearly 900,000 single-family homes across 13 states in the western U.S. are currently designated at “High” or “Very High,” risk for wildfire damage, representing a combined total reconstruction value estimated at more than $237 billion. Of the total homes identified, just over 192,000 homes fall into the “Very High Risk” category alone, with total reconstruction cost valued at more than $49.6 billion. Other categories include “Moderate” and “Low” risk. GISCafe spoke with Dr. Tom Jeffery of CoreLogic to find out the scoop on this important new information for homeowners, insurance companies and other stakeholders.

Dr. Tom Jeffery: In the past we used what’s called the assessed property value which is based on tax assessment. We’ve actually changed that so it matches what we do with storm surge which is reconstruction value of these homes. This is going to be the cost of labor and materials in each of the different locations to replace the structure that would be lost in the event that a wildfire destroyed the whole thing. California is right at the top of the list, in most cases, because of wildfire risk throughout the state, but Colorado and Texas are also states that are usually ranked very high. They continue to do so through this report. There is one overarching factor that pops out whenever we do these reports. When we see results for the first time, we see how many homes are at risk in the total U.S. and what those values are. They are exceptionally high in those areas.

GISCafe Voice: What determines what states are ranked high?

TJ: Because you have large population centers in California, Texas and Colorado, and those urban areas that continue to grow, the pace of the growth is going to grow from year. All three of those states continue to have urban expansion and new homes constructed continue to push out into areas that have higher risk. There’s a lot of risk in those three states as well. A lot of people and a lot of risk is a combination that put those three to the top of the list.

GISCafe Voice: How do you assess the risk score?

TJ: The risk score itself is really based on several factors we combine, the first is the risk on the property, and that determines our categories of high, moderate high and very high, those determine the risk on the property. It’s based on what fuel is there, based on vegetation, if there’s change of terrain, if there’s a steep slop which enhances the risk, that determines the category. But for the score we actually want to look outside the property boundary to risk in close proximity to that property. So if you own a property maybe you have a nice manicured lawn, decorative trees, you don’t have any risk on the property. But just outside the boundary there could be a lot of chaparall in Southern California, for instance, a dense conifer or pine forest, in other areas. If that exists really close to your property that raises the risk value.

So we measure the distance from a property to what’s around it in terms of risk and then we add that to the category or risk on the property, and we add that to the score. The score is going to be 0-100 numeric-based and anything that’s 80 and above is extremely high risk. We have those broken out in the tables, so you can see even though if you look at the U.S. as a whole, there are going to be 192,000 properties that are listed as very high. And that’s looking at the risk on the property. As soon as we look at the score – and the score 81-100, we go from 192,000 all the way up to 1.1 million. So really those homes on the urban edge pushing out in to the wilder areas are the ones that the score is picking up and that’s why the scores are jumping from 192,000 to 1.1 million. It’s the homes that don’t have the risk within their borders and boundaries but have it just outside that are at most risk.

GISCafe Voice: What are insurance companies concerned with when they consult with you?

TJ: Most of those discussions with insurance company representatives revolve around mitigation, which is, how can homeowners reduce the risk on the property and which properties need that? More and more insurance companies have to write these policies and there are so many high risk policies they can’t ignore. What they’re trying to do more and more is identify the high risk properties, then identify ways they can talk to land and homeowners and clear brush around the homes, make sure it’s not a wood shake roof, all these things do to reduce the risk on higher risk. It helps homeowner in the long run because it’s less risk for their home, also helps insurance companies so they both benefit from things homeowners can do to reduce risk on property.

GISCafe Voice: In looking at the properties, is one of the factors that you taking into account in terms reconstruction costs, the cost of the area in terms of real estate?

TJ: The reconstruction costs don’t factor in the costs of the land or the ground land sits on, it is the assessed value taken into account. We were looking at a better way to know what the risk is for the property owner and when we went to reconstruction costs, they have values that are different depending upon where you are geographically as you would expect. It may cost more in terms of labor and materials to build a home in parts of California as opposed to Idaho where labor and materials may be cheaper. All those geographic differences are factored into the cost. The cost of reconstructing a home in LA is going to be higher than doing it in Boise, Idaho.

Also, Montana, Idaho and Utah have a lot of risk, but they don’t have the population.

GISCafe Voice: Do you have your own geographic information system?

TJ: Yes, both of the models we use to create categories and the score are models we’ve created in house –proprietary information. We use GIS extensively to do modeling and run the values of the properties, etc.

From CoreLogic company materials:

Total U.S. Properties at Risk and Reconstruction Values by Risk Category

Wildfire Risk Level Total Properties Reconstruction Cost
Very High 192,242 $49,608,484,867
High 704,860 $187,661,388,760
Moderate 1,351,313 $292,811,373,342
Low 1,378,104 $334,120,053,463
Agriculture 993,580 $244,167,729,666
Urban 23,778,799 $6,094,873,170,789
Total: 28,398,898 $7,203,242,200,887

Total U.S. Properties at Risk and Reconstruction Values by Numeric Risk Score

(1-100) Total Properties Reconstruction Cost
81-100 1,101,131 $268,549,008,333
61-80 1,193,814 $338,395,410,748
51-60 487,013 $131,081,392,801
1-50 25,616,940 $6,465,216,389,005
Total: 28,398,898 $7,203,242,200,887

The states most commonly associated with wildfires also contain the most properties at risk – California, Colorado and Texas have the largest number of residential properties categorized as “Very High Risk,” with a combined reconstruction value exceeding $36 billion. Including homes located in the “High Risk” category, the reconstruction value is more than $188 billion for these three states. When analyzed by risk score, 816,515 homes with reconstruction costs valued at more than $206.5 billion fall into the highest risk segment of 81-100.

Limiting the evaluation to property-level risk strictly in the “Very High” category, California tops the list of states analyzed with a total of 50,905 homes falling into that group. Comparatively, when assigning the Wildfire Risk Score, Texas takes the top spot with 451,848 homes scoring in the 81-100 highest-risk range.

Total Properties at Risk by State and Risk Category

State Low Moderate High Very High Agriculture Urban Total
AZ 43,273 4,443 8,488 8,089 5,332 1,910,771 1,980,396
CA 221,104 169,468 255,023 50,905 146,013 8,208,625 9,051,138
CO 70,935 38,628 50,009 49,667 66,876 1,482,352 1,758,467
ID 37,352 22,968 15,197 11,078 86,542 384,018 557,155
MT 60,588 18,903 9,601 10,218 22,516 194,927 316,753
NV 17,845 20,520 8,653 281 3,166 816,975 867,440
NM 55,969 19,554 25,766 9,481 16,200 483,282 610,252
OK 165,009 88,642 187 0 33,225 968,210 1,255,273
OR 37,137 41,160 51,872 13,788 157,749 938,664 1,240,370
TX 332,766 829,457 261,855 35,016 175,691 5,960,221 7,595,006
UT 11,185 13,590 3,441 68 31,825 681,016 741,125
WA 308,066 72,069 12,509 1,997 219,334 1,625,394 2,239,369
WY 16,875 11,911 2,259 1,654 29,111 124,344 186,154
Total 1,378,104 1,351,313 704,860 192,242 993,580 23,778,799 28,398,898

Reconstruction Values by State and Risk Category

State Low Moderate High Very High Agriculture Urban Total
AZ $9,641,256,308 $976,410,271 $1,758,550,435 $1,572,563,175 $1,143,819,360 $366,495,664,312 $381,588,263,861
CA $75,842,726,208 $61,916,244,431 $89,354,295,530 $16,103,052,587 $49,993,071,641 $2,787,437,974,226 $3,080,650,364,623
CO $18,625,174,701 $11,531,765,722 $14,580,510,822 $13,914,663,160 $17,325,198,320 $341,298,432,193 $417,275,744,918
ID $9,201,487,848 $5,563,694,301 $3,712,505,829 $2,620,564,770 $19,821,299,748 $81,602,075,191 $122,521,627,687
MT $14,629,451,956 $4,430,244,606 $2,287,179,138 $2,395,322,719 $5,408,564,612 $40,511,274,596 $69,662,037,627
NV $4,236,711,357 $5,193,363,455 $4,565,346,511 $164,097,900 $804,282,891 $209,146,367,671 $224,110,169,785
NM $11,654,726,259 $4,622,802,292 $7,067,786,311 $2,461,741,365 $3,238,850,020 $98,567,625,878 $127,613,532,125
OK $31,924,967,489 $16,773,531,745 $32,840,233 $0 $6,781,088,763 $175,933,722,480 $231,446,150,710
OR $8,237,043,811 $9,489,672,570 $11,913,602,274 $3,198,334,352 $37,257,178,708 $213,002,484,645 $283,095,316,360
TX $59,531,714,789 $147,682,544,644 $48,259,080,738 $6,333,237,927 $32,857,921,476 $1,201,265,765,342 $1,495,930,264,916
UT $2,849,584,240 $3,928,155,203 $768,151,716 $14,155,093 $8,343,607,261 $157,244,129,873 $173,147,783,386
WA $84,067,607,674 $18,078,389,368 $2,876,053,207 $505,435,568 $54,701,823,116 $397,645,668,540 $557,874,977,473
WY $3,677,600,823 $2,624,554,734 $485,486,016 $325,316,251 $6,491,023,750 $24,721,985,842 $38,325,967,416
Total $334,120,053,463 $292,811,373,342 $187,661,388,760 $49,608,484,867 $244,167,729,666 $6,094,873,170,789 $7,203,242,200,887

Total Properties at Risk by State and Numerical Risk Score

State 1-50 51-60 61-80 81-100 Total
AZ 1,919,351 14,308 27,159 19,578 1,980,396
CA 8,286,708 133,654 367,457 263,319 9,051,138
CO 1,454,787 52,823 122,509 128,348 1,758,467
ID 476,310 9,554 27,868 43,423 557,155
MT 243,990 13,114 27,301 32,348 316,753
NV 848,682 2,337 9,184 7,237 867,440
NM 523,755 14,487 32,139 39,871 610,252
OK 1,250,888 1,431 2,219 735 1,255,273
OR 1,091,300 22,616 46,655 79,799 1,240,370
TX 6,458,363 197,548 487,247 451,848 7,595,006
UT 693,256 14,713 24,311 8,845 741,125
WA 2,192,567 8,662 17,001 21,139 2,239,369
WY 176,983 1,766 2,764 4,641 186,154
Total 25,616,940 487,013 1,193,814 1,101,131 28,398,898

Reconstruction Values by State and Numerical Risk Score

State 1-50 51-60 61-80 81-100 Total
AZ $369,191,090,202 $2,781,562,044 $5,612,822,008 $4,002,789,607 $381,588,263,861
CA $2,785,871,424,591 $53,258,974,686 $153,067,995,013 $88,448,970,333 $3,080,647,364,623
CO $333,552,521,110 $13,769,558,737 $33,846,313,158 $36,107,351,913 $417,275,744,918
ID $102,894,072,845 $2,426,687,082 $6,899,872,812 $10,300,994,948 $122,521,627,687
MT $52,685,950,526 $2,997,541,855 $6,338,603,322 $7,639,941,924 $69,662,037,627
NV $216,436,292,731 $624,126,373 $3,860,921,144 $3,188,829,537 $224,110,169,785
NM $105,891,175,664 $3,334,262,905 $7,919,619,903 $10,468,473,653 $127,613,532,125
OK $230,716,181,496 $235,452,854 $370,084,424 $124,431,936 $231,446,150,710
OR $248,596,738,298 $5,247,235,235 $11,061,921,922 $18,192,420,905 $283,098,316,360
TX $1,276,614,038,497 $39,753,699,730 $97,535,512,589 $82,027,014,100 $1,495,930,264,916
UT $159,359,659,455 $4,309,214,977 $7,363,299,947 $2,115,609,007 $173,147,783,386
WA $547,066,785,312 $1,964,631,216 $3,905,374,051 $4,938,186,894 $557,874,977,473
WY $36,340,458,278 $378,445,107 $613,070,455 $993,993,576 $38,325,967,416
Total $6,465,216,389,005 $131,081,392,801 $338,395,410,748 $268,549,008,333 $7,203,242,200,887

At the CBSA (Core Based Statistical Area) level, Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. ranks first for the most number of homes at “Very High” risk out of the 258 CBSAs analyzed. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. comes in a close second, followed by Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif.

When ranking CBSAs based on Wildfire Risk Score, Riverside-San-Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. takes the top spot for the most number of homes that fall under the highest risk segment of 81-100, followed by Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif. and Austin-Round Rock, Texas.

Top 10 CBSAs Ranked by Homes at Very High Risk

CBSA Very High # Homes Home Reconstruction Value
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 17,860 $5,358,513,217
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 14,249 $4,233,998,840
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA 9,698 $3,351,781,562
Bend-Redmond, OR 9,128 $2,328,466,791
Colorado Springs, CO 7,296 $2,086,189,220
Durango, CO 6,052 $1,776,710,340
Fort Collins, CO 4,609 $903,336,600
Truckee-Grass Valley, CA 4,569 $1,430,020,245
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 4,219 $917,157,644
Flagstaff, AZ 4,109 $753,176,500

Top 10 CBSAs Ranked by Numerical Risk Score

CBSA 81-100 Risk Score Home Reconstruction Value
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 50,605 $14,805,549,511
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA 42,042 $15,875,023,943
Austin-Round Rock, TX 35,807 $9,019,956,767
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 35,174 $10,807,628,461
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 31,350 $7,097,211,479
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 17,006 $8,654,562,030
Chico, CA 15,103 $3,754,593,902
Colorado Springs, CO 14,990 $4,408,080,237
Truckee-Grass Valley, CA 14,671 $4,945,547,724
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 14,092 $3,063,417,604

*Additional CBSA-level data may be available upon request.

To enhance accuracy, this CoreLogic wildfire analysis has been expanded from prior annual analyses to encompass additional categories of single-family residential structures including mobile homes, duplexes, manufactured homes and cabins, among other non-traditional home types. The values represent estimates of reconstruction costs, taking into account labor and materials, and are based on 100-percent or total destruction of the residential structure. Depending upon the size of the wildfire, there may be less than 100-percent damage to the residence, which would result in a lower realized reconstruction cost.

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Categories: asset management, climate change, CoreLogic, geomatics, geospatial, GIS, Google, GPS, location based sensor fusion, location based services, mapping, storm surge, wildfire risk

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