Fires

What’s the wildfire risk in your community? Find out here

Communities throughout California are have high risks for wildfire destruction. Search this database to see how many homes and residents are in a very high fire hazard severity zone where you live.

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How we calculated these numbers

A lot of Californians live in places that could be quickly destroyed by wildfire. To estimate how many, McClatchy used two primary sources: The U.S. Census Bureau and Cal Fire maps showing “very high fire hazard severity zones.”

The analysis used block-level data from the 2010 Census. Blocks are the smallest level of census geography. McClatchy calculated the center point of each block in the state then calculated how many of those points fell within very high fire hazard severity zones. Finally, McClatchy matched up blocks in very high hazard safety zones with census files showing the boundaries of each city and unincorporated town in the state. We focused our reporting on places where more than 90 percent of the population lived in a very high fire hazard severity zone.



Caveats:

A small number of places have changed their boundaries since 2010. Any such changes would not be reflected in this data.

There is more likely to be discrepancies between census blocks and very high hazard fire zones in sparsely-populated places, where blocks tend to cover a larger geographic area.

Total population figures for cities and census-designated places were calculated using block-level data and may differ from official 2010 Census counts. In most instances these differences are very small – less than a 1 percent discrepancy between block-level estimates and census figures for the city.

While conducting the analysis, McClatchy and the AP noticed that a few very high hazard zones on federal land were not properly mapped in a file provided by Cal Fire. These areas, largely parts of military bases in San Diego, were not included in the analysis.

Notably, this analysis does not reflect population changes across the state since 2010. California’s population has grown about 6% since 2010 and some cities, towns and census-designated places have grown more than others. Updated block level data will not be available until after Census 2020. The numbers provided are most likely an undercount of the current situation.

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A collaboration between the Chico Enterprise-Record, Paradise Post, Redding Record Searchlight, Reno Gazette-Journal, Ventura County Star, Sacramento Bee, The Desert Sun and Associated Press, which is distributing this project to all AP news organizations. View all stories
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