Wildfire seasons in the recent years have been some of the deadliest and most destructive that our nation has seen to date because of three human influenced factors. In the past thirty years, wildfire acreage has more than doubled, and not only have wildfires become more frequent, but they cover more ground, move at record-setting speeds and are more difficult to contain. With this increase in wildfire damage comes increasing suppression costs.
Looking specifically at the California wildfires, suppression costs have significantly spiked in the recent years. Why are the costs of wildfire damage increasing at a faster rate than the acreage and frequency of the wildfires occurring there?
Increasing urbanization requires additional funds to protect communities residing in fire-prone regions. Fire protection organizations will continue to fight fires as they approach urban areas in the short-term, but in the long run, we need to be thinking about strategies to keep our surrounding forests healthy, future wildfires more containable and the wildfire suppression cost trend from escalating.
Citation for this infographic:
USC Sol Price School of Public Policy’s online Executive Master of Urban Planning program