Wildfires are a part of life for most Californians. Over 2 million homes are at risk for wildfire damage in The Golden State, according to Verisk Wildfire Risk Analysis.  Here’s a breakdown of California wildfire stats, facts, and figures in 2023.
California wildfires facts and statistics
From the number of acres set afire in 2022 to the deadliest wildfires in The Golden State to date, here are 10 recent facts about wildfires in California.
Nearly 199,000 acres burned in California as of August 2022 
Over 5,600 fire incidents so far in California in 2022 
Over 500 structures destroyed by wildfires in California as of August 2022 
297 fires burned in January 2021alone, which was an unusually early start to wildfire season in California 
California went 200 days without rain in 2021 — rainfall eventually came in October 2021, helping reduce the wildfire spread 
Over 1 million acres burned by the August Complex fire in 2020, the most destructive wildfire in California history 
Over 1,300 structures destroyed by the Dixie Fire in July 2021, the second most destructive wildfire in California history 
85 deaths caused by the Camp Fire in November 2018, the deadliest wildfire in California to date 
Around 2,040,600 California properties at risk for wildfire damage as of 2021 
Around $13 billion total insured losses due to wildfire incidents in California in 2018 
Largest wildfires in California history
Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history have taken place in the last 10 years. Experts base the worst fires on how many acres are burned. In 2020, the August Complex fire burned over 1 million acres, making it the largest wildfire in California history.
Most common causes of wildfires in California
Nearly 84% of wildfires are started by humans, like by downed powerlines, campfires, and arson.  Combine this with the rapid effects of climate change that California is seeing — with warmer temperatures, drier seasons, and extended periods of drought — and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Here are the causes of the top 15 largest wildfires in California history. 
Number of acres burned
Number of structures burned
SCU Lightning Complex
LNU Lightning Complex
Lightning & arson
Wildfire insurance in California: Facts and figures
It can be difficult for homeowners in high-risk wildfire areas to find adequate homeowners insurance coverage. If that’s the case for you, you may need to go with a last-resort coverage option, like the California FAIR Plan.
Below is a breakdown of home insurance and FAIR Plans in The Golden State.
Standard home insurance
Average cost: $1,565/year or $130/month
Standard home insurance policies may exclude wildfire damage if you live in a high-risk area. Plus, premiums are getting more expensive. Homeowners in California saw an increase of nearly 10% in home insurance costs from May 2021 to May 2022. This is due to the increase in destructive wildfires, building costs, and a shortage of labor.
California FAIR Plan
Average cost: More expensive than standard home insurance
Covers: Damage caused by fire, smoke, lightning, or internal explosion
To qualify for a California FAIR Plan policy, you need to have been denied coverage on the private market. And since FAIR Plans offer more limited coverage options and tend to cost more than standard insurance policies, they're best saved as a last resort after you've exhausted all other options available to you.
Why are home insurance costs going up in California?
“There’s inflation that’s taken place, so the cost to rebuild a home costs quite a bit more than it used to,” says Janet Ruiz, Director of Strategic Communications at the Insurance Information Institute. “There’s also a shortage of contractors. And we’re seeing hotter, drier weather — and more wind — which leads to more wildfires. So all these things are coming into play at the same time.”
Facts about California wildfire prevention programs
There are multiple things you can do to protect your home from wildfire damage — and some may score you a discount with your home insurance company.
Below are some initiatives the California Department of Insurance is advising homeowners to take advantage of.
Wildfire Prepared Home Program
If you receive a designation through this program, you’ll likely see a discount on your home insurance premiums.
To receive this designation, your home will need to meet several structural requirements, including:
Class-A fire-resistant rated roof
Exterior walls with a minimum of 6 vertical inches (measured from the ground up) of noncombustible material, such as brick, stone, or concrete
Gutters and downspouts made of noncombustible material
FireWise USA community programs
This program helps communities get organized with a safety plan and make their homes fire-resistant. If you don’t live in a FireWise community, you can follow the steps to apply to be one on the FireWise USA website.
Once FireWise helps you fire-proof your home, make sure you contact your insurance company — the efforts you took to prevent wildfire damage may result in a discount on your premiums.