Forty-four percent (44%) of voters see uncontrollable wildfires as a serious problem. Just under half (44%) of U.S. voters say “uncontrollable wildfires that destroy property and forests" “is a serious problem, facing the nation” – with one-in-four calling it an “extremely” or “very” serious problem. This is the highest proportion to register this view since 2007. Concerns about this issue are drastically different by region, with 42% of voters in the West saying wildfires are an extremely or very serious problem and two-thirds deeming them to be at least somewhat serious.
Equal numbers of voters say wildfires in the country are worse than they were five years ago as say they are about the same. Fully 44% of voters say wildfires are worse than they were five years ago, while 45% say they are about the same. Almost no one - a scant 5% - say they are not as bad as they were five years ago. There is a clear difference by gender. Half (49%) of women judge wildfires to be worse than they were five years ago (42% the same.) – ten points higher than among their male counterparts (39% of men view wildfires as worse; 49% about the same).
On a personal level, a majority of voters are either more worried about wildfires affecting their own personal safety than they were five years ago, or worried the same amount. When asked if they personally worried more or worried less about wild fires than they did five years ago, 25% of voters said they worried more, 30% said they worried the same amount, and 34% said they worried less.
A majority of voters say that forest fires are unpredictable and dangerous and should be contained and extinguished as soon as they are discovered. Voters were presented with two options:
Forest fires are a part of nature. We need to protect communities from fires, but in remote areas we should let fires burn and let nature take its course.
Forest fires are unpredictable and dangerous. We need to contain and extinguish fires as soon as they are discovered.
Fully 52% of voters said that forest fires are unpredictable and dangerous, with 44% saying they are a part of nature. There is a clear distinction by region, and party as depicted in the following graph.
Clearly, there is yet another distinction between those in the West and those elsewhere in the country. Moreover, there is a decided partisan distinction, with voters in the West divided, but majorities in the rest of the country saying that fires are dangerous. Party also bears a relationship to responses.