California Wildfires Threaten to Make Housing Shortage Worse With Tens of Thousands of Homes at Risk

October 29, 2019
forest fire in California
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

As California wildfires rip through Los Angeles and Sonoma County, the flames threaten to damage housing valued at over $60 billion in the evacuation zones, according to California residents were forced to evacuate, leaving behind their homes to an uncertain future. But even after the flames, the houses that stand will often face devaluation as a brush with a natural disaster scares many potential buyers. 

It's wildfire season again in California, and with blazes burning across the state and thousands of homes at risk, the governor has declared a state of emergency. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate, and if a significant number of them can't go back, the state's housing shortage will likely make a bad situation even worse.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency late last week. Currently, roughly 34,000 firefighters are battling multiple blazes, including the Kincade fire in Northern California's wine country, the Tick fire north of Los Angeles, and the recently ignited Getty fire in northwestern L.A. Millions have had their power cut off by the state's struggling power utility, which has been blamed for sparking previous blazes. This all comes just a year after the deadliest, most destructive wildfire season in the state's history.

The Kincade fire has led to nearly 200,000 evacuations and the destruction of 40 homes in Sonoma County, the same area that was devastated by fires in fall 2017. The 5-day-old fire consumed more than 66,200 acres on its way to Santa Rosa as of Monday morning. So far, no casualties have been reported.

But an additional 70,400 homes in the area are at risk, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. And if a significant number of those houses are destroyed or become uninhabitable, there likely won't be enough housing for everyone in need of it—and home and rental prices, already high, will probably get pushed up even more.

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