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Rebuilding after wildfire: New development outpaces rebuilds

Date: April 27, 2015

When wildland fires destroy buildings, do people rebuild?


Community sign about rebuilding after the 2012 High Park Fire, Larimer County.
Community sign about rebuilding after the 2012 High Park Fire, Larimer County.
Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain and Northern Research Stations, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oregon State University collaborated to review fires occurring from 2000-2005 in the lower 48 states; and tracked the status of rebuilding for five years post-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 across fires, only an average 25 percent of structures lost to wildland fire are rebuilt within five years. Despite the demonstrated risk of losing buildings to fire, we find little evidence that homeowners and communities adapted by changing the locations of buildings, or by lowering rates of new development after the fire in the fire zone.

 

A home rebuilt after the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire, Boulder County
A home rebuilt after the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire, Boulder County

 

Featured Publications

Alexandre, Patricia M. ; Mockrin, Miranda H. ; Stewart, Susan I. ; Hammer, Roger B. ; Radeloff, Volker C. , 2015


Principal Investigators: 
External Partners: 
Sue Stewart, formerly Northern Research Station, now University of Wisconsin
Volker Radeloff, University of Wisconsin
Roger Hammer, Oregon State University