The widespread catastrophic wildfires which have afflicted large swathes of northwest America are a reminder that wildfire is becoming a peak peril, according to catastrophe risk modelling specialist RMS.
According to RMS, catastrophic wildfire occurs when hot and dry conditions combined with extreme winds promote a rapid spread fire. I
In June “historic and dangerous heatwave” warnings from officials for the north-western US and western Canada led to the formation of a heat dome, stretching from Oregon to southern Alaska, and moving slowly east, across the north-west of the U.S. and western Canada. The heat dome has led to new record high temperatures across the region for the past couple weeks.
As of 27 July 2021 in California, Oregon and Washington, 25 active and devastating wildfires fires were reported. Current wildfire activity has burned over 1 million acres across these states.
Though the full extent of fire damage is yet to be seen, the combination of extreme drought conditions, dry weather, lightning activity, and gusty winds, as well as the heat dome, has led to the ignition and spread of these wildfires.
- The Dixie Fire has reached “megafire” status covering over 142,000 acres and is now the largest wildfire in California. Officials expect the fire to continue to rapidly expand, causing a need for the critical resources to control and manage the incident.
- The Bootleg Fire remains the largest single fire in Oregon, burning almost 410,000 acres and destroyed 198 structures so far.
- The Beckwourth Complex Fire, comprised of the Dotta Fire and the Sugar Fire covers 105,670 acres, has destroyed 148 structures, and has destroyed 148 structures
RMS added that its analysis into mitigation modifiers for wildfire with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) demonstrate that for homeowners and the insurance industry, basic mitigation steps can vastly help reduce risk to wildfires.
Risk reduction efforts include implementing defensible space around the property, removal of flammable materials, and emergency escape plan.