Map shows riskiest areas in California for damaging wildfires

Nowhere is safe from fires, and Californians have learned this lesson the hard way. However, some areas are especially prone to dangerous, even deadly, wildfires.

Our data journalism team created an interactive map with data from the California Public Utilities Commission that shows areas the agency has deemed especially at risk for wildfires. There are two categories: elevated threat in orange and extreme threat in red.

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The orange and red areas on the map above are found to have an "elevated hazard for the ignition and rapid spread of powerline fires due to strong winds, abundant dry vegetation, and other environmental conditions," according to the CPUC website.

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The agency started the process of creating a fire threat map after the 2007 Southern California wildfires, fanned by particularly strong Santa Ana winds. Many of those fires were thought to be started by downed power lines.

PG&E lines downed by wind have been the cause of several devastating fires since then, including the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County and the Camp Fire that devastated Paradise in Butte County.

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In areas where there is a particularly high risk of power lines igniting fires, and those fires spreading rapidly, the CPUC says it enforces higher fire safety regulations. Those safety measures include more frequent inspections of power lines, clearing more vegetation, and putting a higher priority on fixing fire hazards when they are identified.
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