Wake County Hazard Mitigation Plan - January 2020


A small portion, approximately 7 percent, of Wake County may experience up to a Class 4 Fire Intensity, which poses significant harm or damage to life and property. Over 22 percent of Wake County may experience Class 3 Fire Intensity, which has potential for harm to life and property but is easier to suppress with dozer and plows. The remainder of the county is either non-burnable (26.4%) or would face a Class 1 or Class 2 Fire Intensity, which are easily suppressed. Impact: 2 – Limited Spatial Extent: 3 – Moderate Historical Occurrences The North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) began keeping records of fire occurrence on private and state- owned lands in 1928. Since this time, there has been an average of approximately 4,000 fires burning more than 115,000 acres annually. Recently, within the last 10 years, the State has averaged closer to 3,200 fires per year and 15,000 acres burned annually. Table 5.17 lists past occurrences of wildfire in Wake County since 2009 as provided by the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) in January 2019. This data only accounts for occurrences within unincorporated Wake County, which fall under the NCFS jurisdiction, as well as larger events in incorporated areas where local fire departments requested NCFS support for fire suppression. Actual number of fires and acreage burned are higher than what can be reported here.

Table 4.83 – Records for Wildfire in Wake County, 2009-2018


Number of Fires

Acreage Burned

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018



21 17 13

130.2 225.0 101.0

1 3 3

2.5 5.1

32.1 75.4

23 27 11






Source: NC Forest Service

Wake County experienced prolonged periods of severe drought in 2010 and 2011, as well as moderate drought in 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017. These periods of drought may explain some of the annual variation in fires and acreage burned. On average, Wake County experiences 10.1 fires and 77.7 acres burned annually from fires that require the North Carolina Forest Service to respond. Actual number of fires and acreage burned is likely higher because smaller fires within jurisdictional boundaries are managed by local fire departments. Probability of Future Occurrence The Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment provides a Burn Probability analysis which predicts the probability of an area burning based on landscape conditions, weather, historical ignition patterns, and historical fire prevention and suppression efforts. Burn Probability data is generated by simulating fires under different weather, fire intensity, and other conditions. Values in the Burn Probability (BP) data layer indicate, for

Wake County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan 2019


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