- Associated Press - Friday, October 28, 2016

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - More than 18,000 homes in the Spokane region are at high or extreme risk of wildfire damage, according to a report from real estate data firm CoreLogic.

The Spokane area contains more than half of all the homes in Washington that are at extreme or high risk of wildfire damage, the report said.

Idaho had more than twice as many homes as Washington at extreme or high risk of damage, placing it fifth nationally behind California, Texas, Colorado and Oregon, the report said. Idaho had 67,877 homes in those high-risk categories, with a potential replacement cost of $15.4 billion.

The CoreLogic Wildfire Risk analysis used computer models and geographic information to assess wildfire risk in the 13 Western states.

The analysis concluded that 98 percent of vulnerable Washington homes are at low risk of wildfire damage.

Spokane’s wildfire risk stems from its close proximity to forested areas with volatile fuels and the relatively large population extending from the urban area into the borderland between the urban and wildland areas, said CoreLogic scientist Tom Jeffery.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources pays a lot of attention to wildfire dangers around Spokane, said Joe Smillie, spokesman for the agency.

“Wildfires around Spokane can also be very volatile because of the heavy winds that come out of the Columbia Basin,” he said. “Those same fast winds make fires less predictable, increasing the threat to homes.”

Idaho had 41,230 homes at extreme risk and 26,647 at high risk, the CoreLogic analysis found.

Wildfires seem to be getting worse. In 2015, wildfires scorched 10 million acres in the U.S. for the first time, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The average burned acreage per year over the previous 20 years was 5.8 million acres.


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