5 Most Dangerous States for Wildfires—Homeowners Beware!

5 Most Dangerous States for Wildfires

Wildfires are a serious concern across the nation, but some states feel the heat more than others. In 2017 alone, the United States experienced 71,499 wildfires1—a third of which occurred in only five states.

To give you a better picture of which states are at risk, we analyzed the data to determine America’s most and least dangerous states for wildfires.

Factors we considered

Number of acres burned

For our report, we used info from the Insurance Information Institute as our official tally of number of acres burned in wildfires.2 The more acres wildfires consume, the more likely they will affect populated areas—potentially posing a threat to your home and your family.

Property damage cost

Although a few wildfire-prone states have vast unpopulated areas with little risk of property damage, others have densely populated communities with homes in and around fire zones.

We took property damage costs from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and factored them into our rankings to find each state’s risk of property loss or damage during a wildfire.3

America’s 5 most dangerous states for wildfires

#1: California

#1 Most Dangerous State for Wildfires

 

California tops our list of most dangerous states to live for wildfires. Although it ranks third for number of acres burned, it experienced nearly four times the amount of spending on property damage as the next state on the list, Texas.

California’s elevated property values may contribute to the high property damage spending, so be sure to research your community’s historical wildfire data before deciding where to invest in your new home.

Ranking factorNumber of acres burnedProperty damage cost
Data1,266,224$96,400,000
Ranking factor
Data
Number of acres burned Property damage cost
1,266,224 $96,400,000

Areas with the most property damage4

  • Southeastern Mendocino Interior
  • San Diego Country Valleys
  • Orange County Inland
  • Carquinez Strait and Delta
  • Santa Ana Mountains and Foothills

#2: Texas

#2 Most Dangerous State for Wildfires

 

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and it turns out wildfire danger looms much larger there too. The Lone Star State ranks as the second most dangerous state for wildfires on our list.

Texas claimed the second highest amount for property damage spending in 2017 while coming in fourth for number of acres burned. This shows it’s not always about how much area wildfires cover but about how much property damage they inflict in those areas.

Ranking factorNumber of acres burnedProperty damage spending
Data734,682$25,470,000
Ranking factor
Data
Number of acres burned Property damage spending
734,682 $25,470,000

Areas with the most property damage5

  • Ochiltree County
  • Swisher County
  • San Patricio
  • Hockley County
  • Gonzales

#3: Nevada

#3 Most Dangerous State for Wildfires

 

Nevada lands at number three on our list, mostly because of the sheer number of acres wildfires burned in the state. After losing 1.3 million acres to flames, Nevada experienced the second most wildfire coverage in 2017—cumulatively covering an area the size of Delaware.

Property damage spending wasn’t nearly as high as other states on our list. Nevada’s $800,000 puts it in tenth place in that category, meaning much of the area wildfires burned was likely uninhabited.

Ranking factorNumber of acres burnedProperty damage spending
Data1,329,289$800,000
Ranking factor
Data
Number of acres burned Property damage spending
1,329,289 $800,000

Area with the most property damage6

  • Southwestern Elko

#4: Washington

#4 Most Dangerous State for Wildfires

 

Washington lands at number four on our list largely because of the cost of the state’s wildfires. It’s in eleventh place for number of acres burned, but in those 400,000 acres, Washington spent almost 11 million dollars to repair property damage.

Ranking factorNumber of acres burnedProperty damage spending
Data404,223$10,900,000
Ranking factor
Data
Number of acres burned Property damage spending
404,223 $10,900,000

Areas with the most property damage7

  • Cascades of Snohomish and King Counties
  • Southwest Interior
  • Cascades of Whatcom and Skagit Counties
  • East Slopes Northern Cascades

#5: Kansas

#5 Most Dangerous State for Wildfires

 

Kansas might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of wildfire danger, but its combination of acres burned and property damage spending places it at number five on our list.

The Sunflower State’s expansive prairies are quite susceptible to fires under the right conditions, so moving here could put your home on the range at risk.

Ranking factorNumber of acres burnedProperty damage spending
Data476,306$5,240,000
Ranking factor
Data
Number of acres burned Property damage spending
476,306 $5,240,000

Areas with the most property damage8

  • Clark County
  • Reno County
  • Rooks County
  • Russell County

America’s 5 safest states for wildfires

Our five safest states experienced far less impact from wildfires than the states on the other end of our list.

The NCEI’s property damage data for 2017 lists each of these states’ spending at zero, meaning the fires occurred in mostly unpopulated areas.

We won’t dive too deep into the details of why these states fare better than others as the numbers speak for themselves.

StateNumber of acres burnedProperty damage spending
#1: Delaware6$0
#2: Rhode Island30$0
#3: Vermont50$0
#4 Illinois98$0
#5: New Hampshire123$0
State
#1: Delaware
#2: Rhode Island
#3: Vermont
#4 Illinois
#5: New Hampshire
Number of acres burned Property damage spending
6 $0
30 $0
50 $0
98 $0
123 $0

Stay safe out there!

Whether you’re moving to one of the safest or most dangerous states for wildfires, there are a couple of steps you can take to help keep your home safe.

Buy a home that has undergone wildfire risk reduction

If you’re concerned about a home’s wildfire risk, make sure it incorporates fire-resistant materials like fire-resistant roofing or siding. A home’s landscape features can also serve as good indicators of a home’s fire risk. Houses nestled in groves of pine trees might not fare as well as those constructed with more defensible space from encroaching wildfires.9

Invest in homeowners insurance

Standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage and destruction caused by fires.10 Wildfires are usually covered with this coverage too, but contact your insurance provider to learn more details about your specific plan.

Let us help you move to your new home

No matter where you move, we can help get you there safely and comfortably. Use our Find-a-Mover tool to find the perfect moving company in your area.

Methodology

To determine the most and least dangerous states for wildfires, we looked into two main ranking factors: the number of acres wildfires burned in each state and the amount of money spent on property damage.

Endnotes

1. Insurance Information Institute, “Facts + Statistics: Wildfires
2. Insurance Information Institute, “Wildfires by State, 2017
3. National Center for Environmental Information, “Storm Events Database
4. National Center for Environmental Information, “Storm Events Database, Search Results for All Counties in California
5. National Center for Environmental Information, “Storm Events Database, Search Results for All Counties in Texas
6. National Center for Environmental Information, “Storm Events Database, Search Results for All Counties in Nevada
7. National Center for Environmental Information, “Storm Events Database, Search Results for All Counties in Washington
8. National Center for Environmental Information, “Storm Events Database, Search Results for All Counties in Kansas
9. Homes.com, “Buying a Home in a Fire Zone
10. Insurance Information Institute, “Insurance for Wildfires