California fires costs $1B, razes 7,000 buildings | Inquirer News

California fires costs $1B, razes 7,000 buildings

/ 10:48 AM October 20, 2017

A sign on the chimney of a home warns looters Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, after it was destroyed by wildfires in Glen Ellen, Calif. California fire officials have reported significant progress on containing wildfires that have ravaged parts of Northern California. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SAN FRANCISCO – The wildfires that have devastated Northern California this October caused at least $1 billion in damages to insured properties with nearly 7,000 structures such as homes and buildings razed, officials said on Thursday.

Authorities expected these figures to rise as they continued assessing areas scorched by the blazes that took the lives of 42 people, which makes the tragedy the deadliest disaster in the history of California.


The fires in Los Angeles killed 29 people in 1933, while the fires in Oakland Hills killed 25 people in 1991.


State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said the preliminary dollar valuation of losses came from claims filed with the eight largest insurance companies in the affected areas and did not include uninsured properties.

According to Jones, the estimated value is expected to soar “probably dramatically so”, which could likely also make the catastrophe the costliest in the state’s history.

Officials noted that the initial insurance sum covered losses of 9,626 residential structures; 35 condominium units; 601 commercial properties; more than 3,000 vehicles; 150 farm or agricultural equipment; and 39 boats.

“The estimates are in structures and are mostly homes, but also includes commercial structures and outbuildings like barns and sheds,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant.

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday to speed up recovery efforts as fire authorities said they have stopped the progress of wildfires.

More than 15,000 people remain evacuated on Thursday, down from a high of 100,000 last Saturday.


Brown’s directive also allowed disrupted wineries to relocate tasting rooms, and suspended state fees for mobile home parks and manufactured homes.

The order likewise extended California’s prohibition on overpricing during emergencies until April 2018, and expedited hiring of personnel for emergency and recovery operations.

In Los Angeles County, authorities said a charred body was found on Mount Wilson last Wednesday while recovery teams were trying to surround a smoldering wildfire in steep terrain.

The coroner’s office has yet to establish the identity of the victim.

California firefighters were also battling a blaze that sent smoke billowing into the college beach town of Santa Cruz.

The wildfire in steep and rugged terrain had grown to nearly half a square mile (1.3 square kilometers), as the number of houses threatened by the fire had doubled to 300.

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Several firefighters also suffered minor injuries. /kga

TAGS: California, cost, damage, environment, wildfire, wine country

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