Since January, nearly 32,000 wildfires have scorched more 3.3 million acres in the U.S., the National Interagency Fire Center estimates. Currently, 50 active fires are burning across 1.7 million acres. Sadly, the agency says nine of out 10 wildfires are human-caused and therefore preventable. (These are the 30 most destructive wildfires in the U.S. this century.)
Nationally, more than 71.8 million homes are at risk of a fire hazard, reports Risk Factor, an online tool from the nonprofit First Street Foundation that assesses a property’s risk from environmental threat such as fire or flooding.
Not every area in the nation carries the same fire risk. Some counties and states are more prone to wildfires than others, with western states including California, Texas, and Arizona disproportionately at higher risk. To determine the places most likely to have wildfires, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the National Risk Assessment from climate risk assessment advocacy group First Street Foundation. U.S. counties were ranked based on the percentage of properties with at least a 0.03% risk of burning in 2022.
Based on First Street Foundation’s most recent evaluation, portions of Texas and New Mexico are most vulnerable to a wildfire. Seven high-risk counties are in Texas, followed closely by six in New Mexico. (This is the state where temperature is rising the fastest.)
New Mexico is currently fighting three fires burning 671,493 acres, the National Interagency Fire Center notes. One fire in Texas is scorching 500 acres. Although not on this list, there are 30 large fires in Alaska across 925,548 acres.
These fire-borne disasters take a huge human and financial toll. According to risk assessment firm Aon, insured losses from wildfires in three of the past four years – 2017, 2018, and 2020 – have exceeded more than $12 billion in the U.S.
In 2021, 58,968 wildfires burned 7.1 million acres, the Congressional Research Service reported in June. The blazes led to the deaths of 15 firefighters and 33 civilians through October 2021. And just in mid-April, an elderly couple perished in the McBride wildfire in Ruidoso, New Mexico, Reuters reported.