Santa Fe ranks 12th in the west for greatest wildfire risk

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico city was recently ranked as having one of the highest risks for wildfires in the west. If there’s a fire, it would be expensive.

Breathtaking views of mountains and forests, many people have a stunning view of the Capital City from their backyards. It’s the natural beauty that draws people to build their homes here in Santa Fe, but all that vegetation raises concerns when it comes to fires.

“This is a real risk,” said Alan Hook with the Santa Fe Water Division. “We’re in the west and fire is part of the landscape.”

The State Forest office created the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition, saying the Capital City is, and has been, an extreme fire risk. A new report from Core Logic backs this up, ranking Santa Fe 12th in the west for cities with the greatest fire risk.

A fire there would be extremely costly. The study said more than 23,000 homes in the Santa Fe area face an extreme wildfire risk, estimating a whopping $7.28 billion worth of reconstruction if those homes go up in flames.

“That would be a big loss,” said Hook. “Insurance companies look at that and its real potential impact to the community of Santa Fe.”

The homes at most risk are in the outskirts of the city.

“People in this field have always known this,” said Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition Chair Eytan Krasilovsky. “But it’s good to hear this information that confirms what our information shows, but it is troubling and we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

That work includes forest thinning, which the Forest Service said some homeowners have tried to stop.

“So we don’t want this catastrophic wildfire to occur, but from the city’s perspective, we’re doing all we can do prevent that,” said Hook.

The last major fire near Santa Fe was the Pacheco Canyon wildfire in 2011. It was caused by a campfire and burned more than 10,000 acres.

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