The number of wildland-urban interface communities affected by wildfire is increasing, and both wildfire suppression and losses are costly. However, little is known about post-wildfire response by homeowners and communities after buildings are lost. Our goal was to characterise rebuilding and new development after wildfires across the conterminous United States. We analysed all wildfires in the conterminous USA from 2000 to 2005. We mapped 42 724 buildings, of which 34 836 were present before the fire and survived, 3604 were burned, 2403 were post-fire new development, and 1881 were burned and rebuilt. Before the fires, 38 440 buildings were present within fire perimeters (surviving plus burned). Within 5 years post-fire, there were 39 120 buildings (surviving, rebuilt and new development). Nationally, only 25% of burned homes were rebuilt within 5 years, though rates were higher in the west, the south and Kansas. New development rates inside versus outside fire perimeters were similar. That the number of buildings inside fire perimeters within 5 years post-fire was greater than pre-fire indicated that homeowners are either willing to face wildfire risks or are unaware of them; or that economic incentives to rebuild in the same place outweigh perceived risks.
Alexandre, Patricia M.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Stewart, Susan I.; Hammer, Roger B.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2015. Rebuilding and new housing development after wildfire. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 24: 138-149.