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Living with wildfire in Grand County, Colorado: 2021 data report

August 1, 2022

Wildfire affects hundreds of wildland-urban interface communities each year, and yet most communities lack data reflecting the conditions before an event. This study was conducted before the devastating 2020 East Troublesome Fire1, which spread across 193,812 acres and resulted in two lives lost and 366 homes and 214 other structures burned. The fire’s dramatic run threatened over 7,000 structures and led to a mandatory evacuation of over 35,000 people in Grand and Larimer Counties. The data reported here serve as baseline data to aid in understanding the parcel and social conditions before the fire. This report presents results from WiRē Rapid Wildfire Risk Assessment (WiRē RA) data, collected from 1,162 private residential properties in six communities in five fire protection districts (FPDs), the majority (72%) of which were characterized as high, very high, or extreme risk.

This report also presents results from household surveys sent to homeowners in the study area. Household survey respondents underestimated their risk compared to the conditions observed through the professional risk assessment. Respondents consistently overestimated the amount of defensible space and the distance from their homes to nonvegetative combustibles. Respondents also overestimated the availability of driveway clearance that would enable access for response vehicles and for safe passing of residents evacuating and responders arriving to their homes.

Publication Year 2022
Title Living with wildfire in Grand County, Colorado: 2021 data report
DOI 10.2737/RMRS-RN-94
Authors Hannah Brenkert-Smith, Abby Elizabeth McConnell, Schelly K. Olson, Adam C. Gosey, James Meldrum, Patricia A. Champ, Jamie Gomez, Christopher M. Barth, Colleen Donovan, Carolyn Wagner, Julia Goolsby
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Research Note
Series Number RMRS-RN-94
Index ID 70235849
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center