Wildfires

WILDLAND FIRES

As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava.

2015 AND 2014 WILDFIRES

Between January 1 and July 6, 2015 there were 29,374 wildfires in the U.S., which burned 3,111,481 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. During the same period a year ago, 27,322 fires burned 963,197 acres, or about 2 million fewer acres than in 2015. As of July 6, Alaska, Oregon and Washington state have had significant fire activity.

In 2014 there were 63,312 wildfires which burned over about 3.6 million acres. The Happy Camp Complex fire in California burned over 134,056 acres and the Carlton Complex fire in Washington state burned over 256,108 acres and was the largest fire in the state to date. Over the 20-year period, 1995 to 2014, fires, including wildfires, accounted for 1.5 percent of insured catastrophes losses, totaling about $6.0 billion, according to the Property Claims Services (PCS) unit of ISO.

 

NUMBER OF ACRES BURNED IN WILDFIRES, 1980–2015

Source: © 2015 Munich Re. NatCatSERVICE; National Interagency Fire Center. As of June 2015.

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TOTAL POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO WILDFIRE DAMAGE BY RISK CATEGORY, 2014 (1)

($ billions)

State Low Moderate High Very high
Arizona $9.64 $0.98 $1.76 $1.57
California 75.84 61.92 89.35 16.10
Colorado 18.63 11.53 14.58 13.91
Idaho 9.20 5.56 3.71 2.62
Montana 14.63 4.43 2.29 2.40
Nevada 4.24 5.19 4.57 0.16
New Mexico 11.65 4.62 7.07 2.46
Oklahoma 31.92 16.77 0.03 0.00
Oregon 8.24 9.49 11.91 3.20
Texas 59.53 147.68 48.26 6.33
Utah 2.85 3.93 0.77 0.01
Washington 84.07 18.08 2.88 0.51
Wyoming 3.68 2.62 0.49 0.33
Total, states shown $331.27 $292.81 $187.66 $49.61

(1) Reconstruction value of single-family residences at risk.

Source: CoreLogic, Inc., a data and analytics company.

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TOP TEN MOST WILDFIRE-PRONE STATES, 2013

By households By percent By insured wildfire loss
Rank State Households at high or extreme risk from wildfires (1) Rank State Percent of households at high or extreme risk from wildfires Rank State Largest insured wildfire loss (year)
1 California 1,989,100 1 Idaho 24.1% 1 California $1.7 billion (1991)
2 Texas 1,299,800 2 Colorado 16.9 2 Colorado $450 million (2012)
3 Colorado 373,600 3 California 14.5 3 Texas $530 million (2011)
4 Washington 163,400 4 New Mexico 13.6 4 New Mexico $140 million (2000)
5 Idaho 160,800 5 Texas 13.0 5 Arizona $120 million (2002)
6 Oregon 159,800 6 Utah 12.8 6 Idaho NA
7 Arizona 159,100 7 Oregon 9.5 7 Nevada NA
8 Utah 125,500 8 Washington 5.7 8 Oregon NA
9 New Mexico 122,600 9 Arizona 5.6 9 Utah NA
10 Nevada 59,100 10 Nevada 5.1 10 Washington NA

(1) Number of households is based on data from the 2010 U.S. Census.

NA=Data not available.

Source: Verisk Insurance Solutions – Underwriting and Verisk Climate units of Verisk Analytics®.

 

WILDFIRES BY STATE, 2014

State Number of fires Number of acres burned
Alabama 2,093 40,527
Alaska 384 233,561
Arizona 1,543 205,199
Arkansas 1,302 20,164
California 7,865 555,044
Colorado 830 24,949
Connecticut 28 69
Delaware (1) (1)
Florida 2,436 101,599
Georgia 3,562 19,199
Hawaii (1) (1)
Idaho 1,180 189,430
Illinois 36 727
Indiana 54 276
Iowa 577 11,347
Kansas 68 31,261
Kentucky 1,466 43,199
Louisiana 1,005 25,337
Maine 282 158
Maryland 125 1,802
Massachusetts 1,169 1,197
Michigan 268 716
Minnesota 990 4,367
Mississippi 97 10,053
Missouri 105 5,607
Montana 1,646 38,118
Nebraska 38 992
Nevada 531 59,252
New Hampshire 62 45
New Jersey 962 10,400
New Mexico 728 23,440
New York 94 582
North Carolina 4,625 15,601
North Dakota 567 4,069
Ohio 63 684
Oklahoma 1,007 157,080
Oregon 3,087 984,629
Pennsylvania 877 4,519
Rhode Island 1 0
South Carolina 1,374 8,312
South Dakota 918 13,127
Tennessee 1,249 156,391
Texas 9,677 131,138
Utah 1,035 28,255
Vermont 53 91
Virginia 736 10,446
Washington 1,480 386,972
West Virginia 671 8,286
Wisconsin 613 3,268
Wyoming 403 7,836
United States (2) 63,612 3,595,613

(1) Delaware and Hawaii had no wildfires in 2014.
(2) Includes Puerto Rico which had 3,647 fires that burned 16,292 acres.

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.

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TOP TEN STATES FOR WILDFIRES RANKED BY NUMBER OF FIRES AND BY NUMBER OF ACRES BURNED, 2014

Rank State Number of fires Rank State Number of acres burned
1 Texas 9,677 1 Oregon 984,629
2 California 7,865 2 California 555,044
3 North Carolina 4,625 3 Washington 386,972
4 Georgia 3,562 4 Alaska 233,561
5 Oregon 3,087 5 Arizona 205,199
6 Florida 2,436 6 Idaho 189,430
7 Alabama 2,093 7 Oklahoma 157,080
8 Montana 1,646 8 Tennessee 156,391
9 Arizona 1,543 9 Texas 131,138
10 Washington 1,480 10 Florida 101,599

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.

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In 2013, there were 17 catastrophic wildfires in the U.S., which caused $675 million in overall losses and $385 million in insured losses, according to Munich Re.

WILDFIRE LOSSES IN THE UNITED STATES, 2005-2014 (1)

(2014 $ millions)

(1) Adjusted for inflation.

Source: © 2015 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE.

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TOP TEN MOST COSTLY WILDLAND FIRES IN THE UNITED STATES (1)

($ millions)

      Estimated insured loss
Rank Date Location Dollars when
occurred
In 2014
dollars (2)
1 Oct. 20-21, 1991 Oakland Fire, CA $1,700 $2,668
2 Oct. 21-24, 2007 Witch Fire, CA 1,300 1,446
3 Oct. 25-Nov. 4, 2003 Cedar Fire, CA 1,060 1,323
4 Oct. 25-Nov. 3, 2003 Old Fire, CA 975 1,217
5 Nov. 2-3, 1993 Los Angeles County Fire, CA 375 562
6 Sep. 4-9, 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire, TX 530 556
7 Oct. 27-28, 1993 Orange County Fire, CA 350 525
8 Jun. 24-28, 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, CO 450 463
9 Jun. 27-Jul. 2, 1990 Santa Barbara Fire, CA 265 430
10 Jun. 11-16, 2013 Black Forest Fire, CO 385 391

(1) Property coverage only for catastrophic fires. Effective January 1, 1997, Property Claim Services (PCS), a Verisk Analytics business unit defines catastrophes as events that cause more than $25 million in insured property damage and that affect a significant number of insureds and insurers. From 1982 to 1996, PCS used a $5 million threshold in defining catastrophes. Before 1982, PCS used a $1 million threshold.
(2) Adjusted for inflation through 2014 by ISO using the GDP implicit price deflator.

Source: Property Claim Services (PCS), a Verisk Analytics business.

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