Oroville Mercury-Register

Flirting with disaster in era of mega-fires

- — Dave Garcia, Chico

The state Department of Insurance predicts by 2100, an average of 77% more acres will burn annually across California. This report warns that insurance companies “may withdraw from offering insurance or raise premiums to unaffordab­le levels.” The 2022 Chico Community Wildfire Protection Plan reports the northern and eastern edges of Chico are most exposed to wildfire hazards, especially the Valley’s Edge area. To learn your wildfire risk, go to RISKFACTOR. COM and type in your address.

I spoke with residents of Belvedere Heights, next to Valley’s Edge, who related the terror of evacuating because of the Camp Fire and the back burning to save their homes and the City of Chico. The Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) buffer zone where Valley’s Edge will be built is critical for protecting Chico from wildfires. The Valley’s Edge proposal will eliminate the buffer zone and enlarge Chico’s WUI, increasing the potential for wildfire disasters. Thirteen of California’s most destructiv­e wildfires have occurred in the past five years. The Camp Fire cost $16.5 billion, killed 85 people, almost entered Chico and was the most destructiv­e.

Mega-fires are the new phenomena increasing in WUI areas. The Camp Fire was a forewarnin­g for Chico to get ready! The mega-fires are going to continue, and Chico will burn, the question is only when and how severe. We can ignore science and history or make wildfire safety our top priority. The Valley’s Edge area needs to remain a WUI buffer zone to protect Chico and help keep our insurance rates down.

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