27 Sep 2023
 | 27 Sep 2023

Modelling the vulnerability of urban settings to WUI fires in Chile

Paula Aguirre, Jorge León, Constanza González-Mathiesen, Randy Román, Manuela Penas, and Alonso Ogueda

Abstract. Wildland-urban interface (WUI) regions are particularly vulnerable to wildfires due to their proximity to both nature and urban developments, posing significant risks to lives and property. To enhance our understanding of the risk profiles in WUI areas, we analysed seven fire case studies in central Chile. We developed a mixed-methods approach for conducting local-scale analyses which involved field surveys, remote-sensing through satellite and drone imagery, and GIS-based analysis of the collected data. The methodology led to the generation of a georeferenced dataset of damaged and undamaged dwellings, including 16 variables representing their physical characteristics, spatial arrangement, and the availability of fire suppression resources. A binary classification model was then used to assess the relative importance of these attributes as indicators of vulnerability. The analysis revealed that spatial arrangement factors have a greater impact on damage prediction than the structural conditions and fire preparedness of individual units. Specifically, factors such as dwelling proximity to neighbours, distance to vegetation, proximity to the border of dwelling groups, and distance from the origin of the fire substantially contribute to the prediction of fire damage. Other structural attributes associated with less affluent homes may also increase the likelihood of damage, although further data is required for confirmation. This study provides insights for the design, planning, and governance of WUI areas in Chile, aiding the development of risk mitigation strategies for both built structures and the broader territorial area.

Paula Aguirre et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2130', Michael Nolde, 12 Oct 2023
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2130', Stergios Tampekis, 26 Oct 2023
  • CC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2130', Stergios Tampekis, 26 Oct 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2130', Anonymous Referee #2, 29 Nov 2023

Paula Aguirre et al.

Paula Aguirre et al.


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Short summary
Wildfires pose a significant risk to property located in the Wildland-Urban Interface, WUI. To assess and mitigate this risk, we need to understand which characteristics of buildings and of building arrangements make them more prone to damage. We used a combination of data collection and analysis methods to study the vulnerability of dwellings in the WUI for seven case studies in Chile and concluded that the spatial arrangement of houses has substantial impact on their vulnerability to wildfires