Nearly 40% of Utah homes are at risk of wildfire

With the start of this year’s fire season coinciding with a historic drought and record-breaking heat waves plaguing dozens of Western cities, two in five homes (39.4%) in Utah are at risk fire, a higher share than any other state in the western United States, according to a new report from Redfin. Colorado and Idaho came in second and third, with 19% and 14.4% of high-risk properties, respectively. Less than 10% of homes in the following states are at high risk: Oregon, Nevada, California, Washington, and Arizona.

In its analysis, Redfin focuses on eight of the 11 states in the contiguous western United States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The other three (Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico) were excluded due to insufficient data.

Utah has grown faster than any other US state, with a population that jumped 18.4% to 3.3 million from 2010 to 2020. Idaho, which also faces a fire risk important, came in second. More than a third (35.7%) of searches for homes in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area came from outside the subway in the first quarter, up from 26.8% a year earlier.

While Utah doesn’t top the list in terms of number of fires or area burned, it has a relatively high share of properties at risk, likely because the state’s most populous cities overlap its most at risk areas. Much of the state’s high fire risk lies in and around Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and Provo, Utah’s three largest cities. In comparison, only one of Washington’s three most populous cities, Spokane, poses a substantial fire risk.

“Salt Lake City proper is relatively insulated from fires because it is located in a valley, but much of the mountainous area around it, especially the Wasatch Range to the east and north, is covered with a dry vegetation likely to burn. people live in these mountains or close to them, ”said Ryan Aycock, market manager for Redfin in Salt Lake City. “Many of the homes in Wasatch Range are farming communities or cottages, but there are also at-risk luxury homes in Park City, a resort that was very popular during the pandemic. Park City is a mix of vacation homes and primary residences, but we have recently seen an increase in the number of families coming from Seattle, California and New York to buy primary homes because they can work from n anywhere and want to be close to great skiing and hiking trails. “

While Utah has the largest share of high fire risk properties, California has the highest at risk property value, with $ 628 billion in high fire risk homes, due to the fact that home values ​​in California are relatively high. By comparison, Utah and Colorado have about $ 220 billion in high-risk housing, and the other states in this analysis have less than $ 75 billion in risky assets.

California is also the third largest state in terms of mileage and the densest state in the West, which means there are more homes that can burn down. In 2020, there were 10,431 fires in California that burned 4.1 million acres, more than any other state. Almost 40% of the area that burned in the United States last year was in California.

“Sellers who are in the market right now are rushing to close a deal because they know buyers can start to rethink their decisions when the fire season gets worse,” said Christopher Anderson, Redfin real estate agent in Napa, in California. “But the truth is that once the fire season is over much of the fear subsides. We have seen many people leave the area as the forest fires have intensified, but they are always replaced by new people willing to do it. take the risk. Buyers tend to have a preference for homes that have been fortified against fires because that means they have one less job to do. “

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