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What is the WUI?

While the wildland urban interface (WUI) is a term commonly known in areas that experience wildfires, it may not be common to your fire department.

The WUI is the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development. It is the line, area or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.

You may believe that you don’t have a WUI problem, and that WUI fires only occur in western states, but here are the facts:

More than 46 million residences in 70,000 communities in the United States are at risk for WUI fires.

Between 2002 and 2016, an average of over 3,000 structures per year were lost to WUI fires in the United States.

The WUI area continues to grow by approximately 2 million acres per year.

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Institute of Standards and Technology

States with the greatest number of houses in the WUI:

  1. 1. California
  2. 2. Texas
  3. 3. Florida
  4. 4. North Carolina
  5. 5. Pennsylvania

Number of houses in the WUI relative to the total houses in the state* (%)

wui map wui map wui map wui map

*For states in the conterminous United States.

Source: U.S. Forest Service 31 MB

As the WUI continues to grow, these fires will become an increasing problem for fire departments across the country.

In your area, you may have brush fires, grass fires, forest fires or outdoor fires. These fires can have the same impact when they occur close to homes, neighborhoods and communities. Communities need to understand the risks and make changes to their environments to make them less susceptible to fire.

Learn about fire-adapted communities