Study: Rogue Valley Towns Top List for Wildfire Destruction Risk

Merlin, Medford, Eagle Point, Grants Pass and Ashland all fell within the top 10 communities with the greatest chance of losing homes to wildfire, according to a study commissioned by the Forest Service.

Posted: Jan 29, 2019 10:50 AM
Updated: Jan 29, 2019 10:57 AM

SALEM, Ore. — Major communities in the Rogue Valley face some of the greatest risk for losing homes to wildfire in the state, a new study commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) found.

Merlin topped the list, coming in at the #1 greatest risk. Medford, Eagle Point, Grants Pass and Ashland all came in among the top 10.

The study, conducted by Montana-based wildfire analysis firm Pyrologix, assessed the the risk of "wildfire exposure" for homes in communities throughout the states of Washington and Oregon, then identified the top 50 at-risk communities in each state.

"In the broadest sense, wildfire exposure encompasses the likelihood of wildfire burning a given location on the landscape, and the potential intensity of a wildfire if one were to occur," Pyrologix said in the report.

Although the company only listed 50 communities from each state, the study reportedly examined "all 1,005 named communities" across Oregon and Washington.

"In Oregon, the 50 most-exposed communities comprise only 19% of the 1,196,187 housing units located on or near burnable land cover, but 80% of the cumulative housing unit exposure," the study found.

Pyrologix concluded that, in both Oregon and Washington, a small number of communities carried the vast majority of risk from wildfire destruction. 

"The unequal distribution suggests that focusing mitigation efforts on the most-exposed communities is likely to result in the greatest benefit," the company said.

Below are the top 25 cities at the greatest risk of wildfire exposure — as determined by Pyrologix — which encompasses a number communities in Southern Oregon:

  1. Merlin
  2. Redwood
  3. Medford
  4. Bend
  5. Warm Springs
  6. Eagle Point
  7. Redmond
  8. Grants Pass
  9. Ashland
  10. Prineville
  11. New Hope
  12. Terrebonne
  13. Williams
  14. Cave Junction
  15. Wimer
  16. Gold Hill
  17. Chenoweth
  18. Talen
  19. Central Point
  20. Sisters
  21. Tumalo
  22. Selma
  23. Jacksonville
  24. Rogue River
  25. Klamath Falls

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