Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Forestry Sciences


Natural Resources Management


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Christopher Dicus

Advisor Department

Natural Resources Management

Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


The recent surge in fire activity and the extent of displaced communities as a result of wildfire has increased awareness of wildfire issues nationwide (Syphard et al., 2017). Climate change, population growth, and continued development in the wildland urban interface (WUI) has contributed to a growing body of research into the underlying causes of this continued destruction (Kramer et al., 2019). There is no doubt that statewide policies, such as defensible space or building regulations, are associated with home survival (Keeley & Syphard, 2019). However, the relative effectiveness of wildfire mitigation depends on a myriad of factors specific to individual communities impacted by wildfire. This study focuses on factors that contributed to structure loss as a result of the 2017 Thomas Fire in Ventura, CA. Through spatial analysis utilizing GIS software, we were able to determine that defensible space played a minimal role in structural survivability during the Thomas Fire. Our research shows that fence type (noncombustible, combustible, or none) is a more significant factor at decreasing the odds of structure loss for homes experiencing wildfire under similar conditions. Effective wildfire mitigation relies on multiple factors, and government agencies must take a holistic approach rather than singular, “one size fits all” approaches to reduce the impact of future catastrophic wildfire.