Are Building Decisions the Cause of California’s Wildfires?

California wildfire

California’s deadly wildfires have a straightforward solution, experts say: Stop building homes in places that are likely to burn — and make homes that already exist in those areas a whole lot tougher.

That approach, wildfire and climate policy experts are quick to add, would be expensive and unpopular, especially in a state with both a housing shortage and stunning wooded landscapes that people want to live in. But as climate change causes more frequent and shocking blazes, they say anything less won’t make enough of a difference.

“It’s a land-use issue,” said Alice Hill, a senior adviser for climate resilience to President Barack Obama. Without so many homes being constructed in vulnerable areas at the edge of the forest, “we would still have the fires. But we wouldn’t have this kind of devastation.”

Related Story: Building to Resist Wildfire

A paradox of California’s wildfire epidemic is that it already has one of the most aggressive building codes in the nation. The state uses the most up-to-date version of model national codes, and doesn’t allow local governments to opt out of those codes. It also requires that homes in areas with the highest risk of wildfire get built with fire-resistant materials and construction techniques.

So how do we move forward? Read Chris’s full blog at Bloomberg.

 

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker