Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Wildfire – a Threat to Orange Counties’ Fire Vulnerable Areas

Laguna Hills fireLaguna Hills Brush Fire | Photo: CNN

Orange County has major wildfires on a regular basis. From the 1993 Laguna Fire that destroyed more than 250 homes and evacuated 24,000 residents of the city to the more recent Coast Fire in 2022 that destroyed 20 homes (see picture above), the county has a host of vulnerable non-urban areas next to canyons, mountain, and wildlands. County fire authorities have identified 10 high fire hazard areas that are endangered with larger, faster, more frequent blazes fueled by buildup of vegetation, the drying warmer climate and well- known Santa Ana winds.

In a 2023 Ciruli Associates survey of Orange County, more residents in high fire zones (59%) were likely to believe wildfire was the county’s top environmental problem compared to the countywide average (51%) or residents in non-high-fire zones (49%).

Not surprising, twice as many reported (30% to 13%) having been evacuated from their homes. However, similar percentages of county wide residents said their property would be damaged by a wildfire if there was a threat and high fire area residents were similar to overall county residents in believing additional response to wildfires was needed.

Opinion on Wildfire In High Fire Areas

The survey concerning wildfire was conducted for an association of Orange County fire agencies and conservation groups by Ciruli Associates with YouGov America. The survey of 1,000 residents was fielded from July 20 to August 27, 2023. Of these, a subsample of 135 were identified as residents of high-risk fire regions. Areas identified were in Laguna Beach, Irvine, Anaheim, Newport, San Juan Capistrano, Mission Viejo, and Coto de Caza. The entire survey had a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.

For more information contact Floyd Ciruli at fciruli@aol.com.

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