Terrible wildfires in New Mexico and California could offer an ominous prospect not only for the West, but for a growing part of America.
The risk of forest fires is increasing, probably due to global warming, and its destruction is becoming more costly. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tracked 66% of the damage caused by wildfires since 1980 in the last five years. The amount of insured losses from fires last year was $ 5 billion, according to a Yale University report, insured losses exceeded $ 2 billion for the seventh year in a row.
Fire risk modeling is more important than ever to help protect lives and property, and new technologies from the Brooklyn-based nonprofit First Street Foundation are accurately mapping the threat. 7 in the house
First Street uses everything from property tax data to satellite imagery and assigns a fire risk score that takes into account building type, roof type, weather conditions and natural fuel exposure such as trees and grasses.
Laguna Niguel, Calif. May 11, 2022 – Firefighters fight a bushfire at Coronado Point in Laguna Nigue on Wednesday.
Wally Scalise | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
Matthew EB, founder and CEO of the First Street Foundation, said, “We calculate the risks for every private property and structure across the country, be it a commercial building or a private home.” “What you can see from this is that a house may have the same potential as another fire, but it is much more likely to burn.”
Some homes may be more at risk due to their building materials, the defensive space around them, or the type of roof, for example. The company builds an immediate risk model for Americans’ homes, then adjusts to climate change estimates.
“We could then simulate 100 million fire situations today using supercomputers, and then create another 100 million situations, including weather conditions predicted 30 years ago,” EB said.
First Street gives each home a unique score and unique risk potential. It has done the same for water-related threats, working with Realtor.com to keep flood scores on every property on the home-sales website. This feature behind School District K-12 Performance Data is now the second most clicked card on Realtor.com.
“The response to the floods has been overwhelmingly positive. “Being able to make informed decisions and understand what it takes to protect your home is really helpful,” said Sarah Brighton, senior project manager at Realtor.com.
Potential buyers and homeowners who find their flood and fire scores on Realtor.com can click on a link for more information on the First Street site to learn how to best protect their homes.
“On a monthly basis, we’re seeing millions of impressions against our flood factor data,” EB said.
According to a recent survey by Realtor.com and analytics firm HarrisX, more than 71% of recent home buyers decided to move because of natural disasters. Nearly half of respondents said they were more concerned about natural disasters today than they were five years ago.
The First Street Fire model pays particular attention to what it calls the “urban wilderness interface”, where housing developments collide with forests.
According to First Street, at least 10 million properties are somewhere between “major” and “extreme” fire risk. While the risk of flooding has increased by about 25% in 30 years, the overall risk of wildfires in unpredictable places like New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Arkansas has doubled and increased by more than 200%.
This change helps explain why big companies like Nuvin Real Estate buy data to inform their investments.
“First Street data helps us see first-hand how buildings will be affected? And more importantly, how can we reflect this growing risk in our underwriting?” As well as using data as part of our annual business planning process. “
For homeowners, the information not only guides them in buying a home, but it can also help them protect the one they already own. Fire scores, for example, can help minimize those risks by reporting minor changes, such as landscaping or adjusting ventilation. Experts say it is much easier to protect homes from fires than from major floods.
When First Street launched its Flood Score feature, the data raised fears that it would lower the value of high-risk homes. Brenton of Realtor.com said there were few complaints, but added: “In some places we see homes in high-risk areas appreciating a little slower.”