According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) the average structure loss in the United States since 1999 caused by wildfire is estimated at 2,598 structures per year. A little more than half of these losses being primary residences. These numbers are based information provided on the NIFC ICS-209 incident reports, and may not reflect actual national losses. There are other information sources complimentary to the NIFC data and include the US Fire Adminstration Fire Estimates summaries which present data based on the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NIFRS). If one were to combine these two different information sources together it would be safe to say that on average more than 2,600 structures are lost every year due to wildfires.
Image 1: Wildfire structure loss data by category from 1999- 2011. Source: Fire and Aviation Management Web Applications (FAMWEB).
It is interesting to note the cyclic pattern of the losses in image 1. This could in part be attributed to the El Niño/La Niña–Southern Oscillation weather pattern effect which causes some years to be drier and others wetter. The drier years being when you would expect more structure losses due the increased fire activity and severity.
Image 2: Total structure losses per year from 1999-2011. Source: Fire and Aviation Management Web Applications (FAMWEB).
The trend line in image 2 is moving in a postive direction. This implies that the structure losses are increasing overtime and risk exposure to this natural hazard is not going away anytime soon.
Please check out the Firewise® toolkit on how you and your neighborhoods can reduce their wildfire risk exposure in the event of this growing problem.