Skip to content
CityLab
Environment

How California Cities Can Tackle Wildfire Prevention

Wildfires like Camp and Tubbs are blazing with greater intensity and frequency, due to factors including climate change and urban sprawl. How can cities stay safe?
Paradise, California, was almost completely leveled by the Camp Fire last week.
Paradise, California, was almost completely leveled by the Camp Fire last week.Terray Sylvester/Reuters

As wildfires claim lives once again in California—the death toll from the Camp Fire now stands at 63, with 631 people missing—a familiar aftermath is unfolding. Grappling with the instant loss of their homes and ways of life, Californians will start returning to the charred remains of their houses and towns, many mourning loved ones lost to the infernos.

As policy-makers and researchers debrief on the destruction, there’s a harrowing consensus among scientists: Deadly fire season in the West will only grow longer, fires will only become more deadly, and something has to be done. Cities in wildland–urban interface zones, especially in California, are particularly vulnerable. The wildland-urban interface (WUI) is where houses, and the infrastructure that goes with them, meet and intermingle with wildland vegetation, making them vulnerable to wildfire.