Background Information: Wildfire and Smoke
The risk of wildfire in Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville is relatively low and likely to remain so in the coming decades, especially compared to other regions of the United States and the world. Small increases in exposure to wildfire risk will occur in the county. Of greater risk to our region is the impact on local air quality from wildfire smoke in other locations, as we experienced in June 2023 when Canadian wildfires blanketed much of the eastern half of the United States with intense smoke.
New scientific research suggests that 60% of wildfire smoke’s impact on air quality is experienced outside the state where the fire is burning. Other research shows that wildfire smoke’s contribution to air pollution is increasing across the 48 contiguous states. In other words, the smoke from faraway wildfires is likely to impact our area as climate change intensifies.