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Wildland Fires within Municipal Jurisdictions

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Each year, wildland fires threaten structures and occupants of the wildland‐urban interface (WUI). Currently, wildfire ignition estimates largely exclude ignitions originating within municipal jurisdictions, which contain the majority of the US population. The objective of this article is to provide national estimates and trends of the WUI fire problem; in particular, we analyze the US Fire Administration's National Fire Incident Reporting System fire incident data from 2002 to 2006 reported by local municipal fire departments across the United States. We estimate that, on average, the burning of wildland fuels is associated with 116,971 fires annually. Each year, these fires are responsible for, on average, 15 civilian (nonfire service) fatalities, 88 civilian injuries, and $160 million in direct property losses. These damages include losses to 599 residential structures, 649 nonresidential structures, and 829 vehicles (per year). Based on the value of a statistical life ($8.75 million) and statistical injury ($189 thousand), we find that the economic value of fatalities and injuries averaged $148 million annually. Thus, the losses associated with fires occurring on municipal lands total on average $308 million annually over this time period.
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Keywords: wildfire; wildland; wildland‐urban interface

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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