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New online risk assessment tool shows San Luis Obispo at major risk of wildfire

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Posted at 11:08 AM, May 30, 2022

A new report says that every structure in the City of San Luis Obispo is at moderate to major risk of wildfire in the next 30 years.

The data comes from the non-profit First Street Foundation which publishes open-source data about the environment.

Homeowners can calculate how much of a threat wildfires and floods are to their property using a new tool called Risk Factor.

The conclusions are based on 100 million wildfire simulations that factored in fuel and ignition sources, weather conditions and topography.

Using these simulations, First Street concluded that every home in San Luis Obispo was between a 6 to 14% chance of being exposed to wildfire in the next three decades which it classifies as a major risk.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you don’t live next to a wild space is that you might not be prone to wildfires," said James Blattler, Emergency Manager for the City of San Luis Obispo. "We’ve seen destructive wildfires impact homes in the center of urban areas."

As the risk of wildfires continues to rise in California, experts are pushing for more homeowners to "harden" their property.

CAL FIRE launched the Ready, Set, Go! program as part of its campaign for safer homes.

"Making sure that there's screen meshes over the gutter so that leaves don’t accumulate, making sure the roof isn’t a wood shingle house and areas around the house aren’t prone to burning," Blattler said.

Despite the new report, local realtors say that the growing wildfire threat won't have much of an impact on the Central Coast housing market.

“If someone is particularly nervous about a wildfire, they will probably pick a zone that’s not high on the list,” said Tim Riley, a San Luis Obsipo-based real estate broker.

“It is one factor of many that buyers are going to consider,” he added. "There are other natural hazards that a realtor will work through and disclose to the buyer.”

The Central Coast faces other possible natural disasters with its proximity to the San Adreas fault and the Pacific Ocean.

As for wildfires, the First Street Foundation plans to integrate the Fire Factor tool into real estate websites so that potential home buyers can more easily see their risk.