Costs and Losses of Wildfires in California
CCST has received funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to produce a peer-reviewed report on the costs and losses of wildfires in California. The report aims to frame the large issue in a manner useful to decisionmakers; it will identify key questions of interest and will include a literature review of existing datasets and studies that enumerate costs of wildfire management and wildfire-related losses in the state. A productive next step after the completion of this report would be to perform new analyses using the existing resources to address key questions this report identifies, and to fill the remaining significant data gaps also identified in this report.
Timeline: This report is expected to be delivered to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Fall 2020.
The economic burden of wildfires on the State of California and its residents is a wide-ranging topic, so correctly framing the scope of work is a crucial step in the study process.
The overarching question for the report is:
What are the key considerations concerning costs and losses from California wildfires, and what information already exists to answer them?
Elements to be considered for the report scope:
(1) Pre-Incident and Ongoing Activities
Efforts carried out to prevent unintentional human-caused wildfire ignitions or to mitigate the negative outcomes of wildfires.
- Education/training (public and fire department)
- Ignition Detection
- Monitoring and Forecasting of conditions (e.g. wind events, fuel loads)
- Infrastructure and Home Hardening
- Public Safety Power Shutoffs
- Fuels management (e.g. mechanical thinning, prescribed burns)
- Disaster Assistance Funds
(2) Active Incident
Suppression and emergency response efforts in response to active wildfires, wildfire smoke plumes, or related incidents (e.g. landslide, flooding).
- Firefighting activities
- Emergency Shelter
- Closures (Schools, Hospitals, Roads, work stoppages, etc.)
(3) Incident Outcomes and Recovery
Direct and indirect losses caused by wildfires, wildfire smoke, related incidents (e.g. landslide, flooding), or suppression efforts (e.g. impacts of fire retardants). Losses may be incurred during or after an active incident and may occur within the footprint of the wildfire or at a distance from the wildfire perimeter.
- Death and injuries, including psychological impacts
- Loss of structures and infrastructure
- Loss of natural resources
- Loss of agriculture
- Environmental impacts (vegetation loss, watershed and soil impacts, etc.)
- Remediation and cleanup
- General economic impacts (business interruption, population decline)
- Supply chain impacts
- Interruption of services (utilities, transportation, government)
- Housing market impacts
- Decrease in Tax Base