Stephen M. Strader, PhD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Stephen M. Strader, PhD Stephen M. Strader, PhD

Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Villanova University

Villanova, PA, US

Stephen Strader, PhD, is an expert on the interaction of climate change, natural hazards, and society.

Wildfires Raging in California, Other Western States: Reducing the Vulnerability of Building in Fire Prone Areas

Wildfires Raging in California, Other Western States: Reducing the Vulnerability of Building in Fire Prone Areas 2018-07-30
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Stephen M. Strader, PhD

California firefighters continue to battle multiple wildfires raging throughout the state. The blazes have left behind a trail of destruction and death of a magnitude rarely seen. The Mendocino Complex Fire has set a record as the largest wildfire in the Golden State's history. Triple digit temperatures , low humidity, gusting winds and dry brush continue to feed the fires, but firefighters have begun to make gains in increasing the percentage of containment. Large, fast-moving wildfires are also reported to be blazing in a number of other Western states.

“Since the western United States often experiences hot and dry weather conditions this time of year, wildland fire ignitions are common,” Stephen Strader, PhD, an assistant professor in Villanova’s Department of Geography who researches wildfires, says.

“Although lightning and thunderstorms do often ignite vegetation creating a wildland fire, humans are still the number one cause for wildland fire ignition in the U.S.”

A tremendous increase in population and development in areas that are vulnerable to wildfires has created a more disaster prone society, according to Strader.

“As a result of increasing drought/heat conditions and population in the western U.S., large (greater than 5,000 acres) wildland fires have increased in frequency and size over the last 20 years (see Strader 2018;, he adds.

“The total number of homes and total developed land area prone to wildfire impacts has increased by nearly 1,350% since 1940 throughout the conterminous U.S. Residents in wildfire prone locations should have a plan in place in case action needs to be taken, Strader cautioned. “Unfortunately, because climate and society are both changing, an even stronger emphasis on wildland fire mitigation practices needs to be placed on communities, cities, and governmental organizations if future disaster losses are to be reduced.”

Strader has expertise in wildfires natural hazards, as well as hazards and society and can talk about the wildfires and how planning can mitigate the damage they cause. To contact Strader, click on his headshot above, call the Media Relations office at (610) 519-5152 or email


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