Cities in California with the worst wildfire escape routes – NBC Los Angeles


What there is to know

  • The analysis gives an estimate of the number of people for each highway lane leaving an area.
  • On average, 134 residents live in the riskiest areas for each lane of traffic in both directions.
  • Oak Park in Ventura County has up to five times as many people living in areas most at risk by main road route.

How many roads are enough to exit?

This is the question we asked ourselves after watching the tragedy unfold in Paradise, Calif. Last year during the camp fire.

Paradise had five two-lane roads and one four-lane road leading out of town. But the fire forced authorities to close three of those roads, further obstructing the remaining roads.

Did Heaven have an unusually high ratio of residents per escape route? Or were other California communities in a similar situation?

USA Today-California Network analysis of California communities and escape routes shows that some areas of the state are well outside the norm for the number of routes available for the size of the population. .

This is an abbreviated method of evaluating the effectiveness of escape routes, according to experts in emergency planning.

To assess the escape routes for Californians living in areas at risk of fire evacuation, we combined and analyzed data from the US Census Bureau, Cal Fire, and OpenStreetMap.

We took the block-level populations from the 2010 census, combined with Cal Fire’s “Fire Hazard Severity Zone” maps, and aggregated them into zip codes, then applied more current population estimates. Then, we spatially joined these zones with the fire risk map. This provided a current population risk breakdown for each zip code, based on area and estimated population.

We have added OpenStreetMap data to each postcode, so we can see which roads pass through or out of the area. Combining the postcode population and fire hazard data with the standard number of lanes for each major road has allowed us to come up with a set of postcodes that have the highest number of people living in the most critical areas. more at risk and hypothetically trying to use the fewest lanes left in any direction or towards areas of lower fire risk.

What does this tell us?

In short, the analysis gives an estimate of the number of people for each highway lane leaving an area.

When we looked at all the zip codes in California that have people living in a very high fire risk area, we found, on average, 134 residents living in the highest risk areas for each lane of traffic in the areas. both directions.

Only one in 20 postcodes has more than 313 people living in the most at-risk areas for each lane. Paradise had over 1,000, which puts him in the worst 1%. But some areas, like Oak Park in Ventura County, South Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County, or the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County, have two, three, or even five times as many people living in them. most at risk areas, by way of exit from the main road, compared to paradise.

Here are the zip codes the analysis identified as being in roughly the worst 1% of the state in terms of population / evacuation route ratios:

Southern California:

  • 90042: Highland Park and Eagle Rock in Los Angeles County
  • 90272: Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles County
  • 90274: Rolling Hills in Los Angeles County
  • 90275: Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County
  • 91935: Jamul and surrounding area in San Diego County
  • 92065: Ramona and surrounding area in San Diego County
  • 92131: Scripps Ranch in San Diego County
  • 91320: From Newbury Park to Dos Vientos Ranch in West Thousand Oaks in Ventura County
  • 91377: Oak Park, an unincorporated community in Ventura County
  • 93021: Moorpark in Ventura County
  • 92548: homeland and areas northwest of the homeland in Riverside County
  • 92584: Menifee in Riverside County
  • 92314: Big Bear, Minnelusa and Sugarloaf (92386) in San Bernardino County

Central California:

  • 93924: Carmel Valley and Jamesburg in Monterey County

Northern California:

  • 95954: Magalia in Butte County
  • 95969: Paradise in Butte County
  • 96150: South Lake Tahoe and surrounding area in El Dorado County
  • 95634: Georgetown and surrounding area in El Dorado County
  • 94508: Angwin in Napa County
  • 94708: Cragmont, Kensington and La Loma Park in northeast Berkeley, Alameda County
  • 95422: Clearlake in Lake County
  • 95451: Kelseyville in Lake County
  • 95631: Foresthill and surrounding area in Placer County
  • 95666: Pioneer, Barton and Buckhorn in Amador County

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