$5 billion worth of Southern California real estate faces significant fire risk

  • Just over 86,000 homes in Ventura and Los Angeles counties are at some level of risk.
  • Their combined reconstruction value is $27.7 billion, according to CoreLogic.
  • 13,500 homes with a combined reconstruction value of over $5 billion are at significant risk.
A home burns during a wind-driven wildfire in Ventura, California, U.S., December 5, 2017.
Mike Blake | Reuters
A home burns during a wind-driven wildfire in Ventura, California, U.S., December 5, 2017.

Southern California real estate is some of the priciest in the nation, and a huge swath of it is at risk of damage or destruction from the wildfires now tearing through the area.

Just over 86,000 homes in Ventura and Los Angeles counties are at some level of risk. Their combined reconstruction value is $27.7 billion, according to CoreLogic.

Of them, about 16 percent — some 13,500 homes — stand at significant risk, it said. CoreLogic puts these in the "high" and "extreme" risk categories. They have a total reconstruction value of more than $5 billion.

The majority of homes, 84 percent, are in CoreLogic's "low" or "moderate" risk categories, but the unpredictable Santa Ana winds could shift those numbers in a matter of minutes.

"Wildfire can easily expand to adjacent properties and cause significant damage even if a property is not considered high risk in its own right," according to the CoreLogic report.

Those estimates account for just three of the six major wildfires now burning in Southern California.

The Thomas, Rye and Creek wildfires burning in Ventura and Los Angeles counties have already destroyed more than 500 structures and burned 141,000 acres, but the numbers are already rising quickly and will likely continue into next week.

Winds are expected to pick up throughout Southern California over the weekend, and new fires are burning in the San Diego area.

Some experts are calling the current fire conditions unprecedented. A rainy spring produced more foliage and vegetation than usual. That was followed by one of the hottest summers on record, which dried it all out, leaving vast supplies of fuel for these growing fires.