Apr 22, 2022 - News

Data shows Bastrop at risk of wildfire this year

This geo-image shows the communities defined by Precisely’s Wildfire Risk. Image courtesy of Precisely

Central Texas' Bastrop County is among the areas in Texas most at risk of wildfire in the near future, according to an analysis from data analytics firm Precisely.

The big picture: Eastland, Brown and Bastrop counties, parts of the state hit hard by recent fires, remain most at risk in the future.

Zoom in: In Bastrop, many of the examined areas were deeply impacted by recent fires and are at high risk due to community housing density, high wind speed potential and presence of flammable fuel or vegetation, Precisely found.

Why it matters: In 2021, wildfires in Texas impacted over 168,000 acres of land, and weather conditions are growing more favorable for future fires.

  • While Bastrop is a hot spot for wildfires, all of Texas is at heightened danger.
  • The National Weather Service said earlier this month that drought conditions are likely to persist and even expand across a vast stretch of the country — including Central Texas.

Flashback: Bastrop County has experienced multiple major wildfires throughout the years. Most recently, households and businesses were forced to evacuate in January after a prescribed burn got out of control and burned 812 acres.

  • The most destructive fire in Texas history devastated Bastrop in 2011, killing four people, destroying nearly 1,700 homes and causing $325 million of insured property damage.

What they're saying: Precisely's risk model used multiple data sources that go beyond obvious factors, such as droughts, said Dan Adams, senior vice president of data strategy and operations.

  • "Unfortunately, wildfires are increasingly becoming a real and frightening concern for many people living in high-risk areas," Adams said, adding that the analysis "is especially important as landscapes and weather patterns evolve — leading low risk areas to suddenly increase in potential risk."

Our thought bubble via Axios' Andrew Freedman: Climate change is worsening water extremes, both drought and floods, and leading to hotter droughts that exacerbate wildfire risks.

  • An ongoing La Nina pattern in the tropical Pacific favors continued dry conditions in Texas, which means wildfire risks may actually worsen during the next several months.

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