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Adapting to Wildfire: Rebuilding After Home Loss

Photo of Community sign about rebuilding after the 2012 High Park Fire, Larimer County. USDA Forest ServiceCommunity sign about rebuilding after the 2012 High Park Fire, Larimer County. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Wildfire management now emphasizes fire-adapted communities that coexist with wildfires, although it is unclear how communities will progress to this goal. Hazards research suggests that rebuilding after wildfire may be a crucial opportunity for homeowner and community adaptation. This study explores rebuilding activity after the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire inBoulder, Colo., which destroyed 165 homes, to better understand individual and community adaptation after wildfire.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Mockrin, Miranda H.  
Research Location : Colorado
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 779


When wildland fires destroy buildings, do people rebuild? ?Forest Service scientists collaborated to review fires occurring from 2000 to 2005 in the lower 48 states and tracked the status of rebuilding for five years post-fire. The study examined changes in perception of fire risk; and, structural characteristics and vegetation mitigation of rebuilt homes, to examine how homes, homeowners, and communities changed after fire.

The study shows that the number of buildings inside the perimeter five years after the wildfires was greater than the number of buildings before the fires. Most of these buildings were from new construction. The study also found that for all fires studied, just 25 percent of structures lost to wildland fire are rebuilt within five years. Overall, rebuilding was slow. Despite the demonstrated risk of losing buildings to fire, the scientists found little evidence that homeowners and communities adapted by changing the locations of buildings or by lowering the rates of new development in the fire zone after a the fire..

Additional Resources

Adapting to wildfire: Rebuilding after home loss(publication)

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Roger Hammer, Oregon State University
  • Sue Stewart, University of Wisconsin
  • Volker Radeloff, University of Wisconsin