California wildfire insurance claims top $3.3 billion


California’s insurance commissioner said losses from the blazes amounted to $3.3 billion (2.8 billion euros) based on claims for homes and businesses reported by 15 major insurers.

At least 43 people were killed in the wildfires that broke out on October 8 and ripped through the state’s northern wine region, destroying thousands of buildings.

More than 14,700 homes and 728 businesses, as well as more than 3,600 vehicles, agricultural equipment and vessels, were destroyed or damaged, according to insurers’ reports so far. The figures do not reflect uninsured losses.

“As shocking as 3 billion dollars in insured losses are, the number is sure to grow, as more claims are coming,” Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement.

“Behind each and every one of these claims…are ordinary people, Californians who lost their homes, lost their vehicles, in some cases whose family members lost their lives,” said Jones.

The $3.3 billion total is more than triple an earlier estimate of $1.05 billion that was provided by Jones on October 19.

“I am concerned that the fires we just experienced are not an anomaly and may represent the new normal,” Jones said. “We know that the climate is changing and the temperature has been rising.”

The October fires have been described as the worst in California’s history, and the amount of claims received means they are also the costliest — surpassing the damage caused in the state’s Oakland Hulls blaze in 1991.

Although the fires are now nearly contained, five active wildfires continue to burn, the fire service said.

At the peak of the disaster, as many as 100,000 people fled their homes, while more than 11,000 firefighters were deployed.

A woman surveys her home that was destroyed by the fire


nm/kl (AP, Reuters, dpa)