IBHS collaborates with partners to conduct post-wildfire field studies and claims analyses to identify vulnerabilities, assess the performance of mitigation practices, and propose effective mitigation strategies.
These efforts result in critical insights for property owners and inform future wildfire research.
One-third of homes in the US are now located in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)—wildfire-prone areas where homes and businesses are also located.
Fires listed in alphabetical order
Black Bear Cub Fire
On March 17, 2013, a fire started at a cabin in the Black Bear Ridge Resort (BBRR) development in Sevier County, Tennessee. The fire spread rapidly to other cabins. Before being fully contained, 53 cabins were destroyed and 20 cabins were damaged. The objective of this report is to summarize the results of the site visit and review possible mitigation strategies and options that could minimize the loss of buildings from fire in the future.
Black Bear Cub Fire Report
This report reviews the lessons learned from the destructive 2012 Waldo Canyon wildfire near Colorado Springs. The Waldo Canyon fire destroyed nearly 350 homes, forced the evacuation of more than 30,000 people and burned more than 18,000 acres.
The report was prepared by the Fire Adapted Communities Mitigation Assessment Team, which included experts in building science, forestry, social science and wildfire public education from the USDA Forest Service, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fire Protection Association and The Nature Conservancy. The final report and video are the result of interviews, field visits, and tours of Colorado Springs’ most affected neighborhoods conducted by the assessment team during July 2012.
A companion video, “Creating Fire Adapted Communities: A Case Study from Colorado Springs and the Waldo Canyon Fire” focuses on the successful loss prevention efforts in Colorado Springs that could help other wildfire-prone communities reduce their risks.
For more information about Fire Adapted Communities, please visit the Coalition’s website at www.fireadapted.org.
Lessons Learned from Waldo Canyon Fire
Recognizing that communities affected by the 2007 Witch Creek fire (San Diego County, California) would provide ideal field observations about the value and efficacy of property protection measures, IBHS conducted a study of the Witch Creek Wildfire that resulted in the publication of “Mega Fires: The Case for Mitigation.”
The Mega Fires study investigated several factors that contribute to risk in the event of wildfire, such as housing density, local building codes, construction details and location relative to the fire. The performance of traditionally designed communities was compared to that of designated wildfire resistant communities. IBHS examined construction features, proximity to the fire, wind speed and direction, slope, and the amount and type of vegetation. IBHS also commissioned social research to better understand what motivates people living in wildfire-prone areas to take protective actions and what would make the difference for those who do not.
Mega-Fires: The Case for Mitigation – Executive Summary
Mega-Fires: The Case for Mitigation
Witch Creek & Poomacha
In October of 2007, the Witch Creek and Poomacha wildfires decimated large parts of San Diego County, California. By the time these fires were fully contained, they had burned an estimated 148,000 acres and damaged or destroyed over 1,200 homes and 500 outbuildings.
The Witch Creek & Poomacha Wildfires Closed Claim Study covers some of the same ground as the Mega Fires report (above), comparing wildfire resistant communities to traditional communities in the affected areas, and investigating other factors thought to contribute to risk. However, the data used in this study includes the claims (or absence of claims) experience for 21,768 residential exposures insured by 6 companies offering property and casualty coverage in the area at the time of the fire. This data includes 27% of the estimated 13,000 residential claims and 24% of the total estimated $1.1 billion loss. The data were analyzed for both frequency and severity of claims.
Because the roof is considered a major factor in vulnerability, data also included information on the type of roof covering. The data in this study provides some evidence that code requirements for class A asphalt shingles have reduced claim severity for homes with asphalt shingle roofing.
Because these two fires occurred at the same time and merged, it is impossible to determine which fire caused loss for those exposures near the perimeter of both fires. For this reason, exposures affected by either the Witch Creek or Poomacha wildfires are included in this study.