High fire risk looms over these California communities

Research has shown that people vastly underestimate their vulnerability to wildfires. The large number of devastating blazes in California over the past several years has lifted the veil. Still, Californians continue to live in and migrate to fire-prone areas.

The New York Times published an article on California communities with the highest wildfire risk last week. As the publication notes, being fire-prone is just one aspect of risk. The 2018 Camp Fire reminded us of the importance of exit routes in the event of disaster.

Based on the likelihood of fire alone, the following communities are at highest risk, according to a 2019 analysis.

  • Rancho Palos Verdes, Calabasas, La Cañada Flintridge, Palos Verdes Estates and Malibu in Los Angeles County
  • Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County
  • Kensington in Contra Costa County

The following communities are listed as high risk in part because they have very few exit routes:

  • Highland Park, Eagle rock, Pacific Palisades and Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County
  • Newbury Park, Oak Park and Moorpark in Ventura County
  • Carmel Valley and Jamesburg in Monterey County
  • Jamul, Ramona and Scripps Ranch in San Diego County
  • Big Bear, Minnelusa sugarloaf in San Bernardino County

A recent analysis from StreetLightData actually used cell phone GPS information to monitor exit routes in fire-prone communities. It found 15 places where evacuation routes are more constrained than in the city of Paradise, where 86 people perished in the Camp Fire.

The top 5 communities with limited evacuation routes are:

  • Bell Canyon in Ventura County
  • Brooktrails in Mendocino County
  • Lake California in Tehama County
  • North Shore in Riverside County
  • Coto de Caza in Orange County

Read more from The New York Times.


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