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Wildfires — California Gets a Head Start

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

 

In an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure move, California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of wildfire emergency over the entire state. He’s ahead of the wildfire game. It makes one wonder if other governors in the nine PIA Western Alliance states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington — might be thinking the same thing.

Newsom said his decision means the state — via Cal Fire — can speed up 35 projects designed to protect over 200 communities.

Involving tree clearing and other forest management tools, the decision skirts a lot of environmental protections that have been important to environmentalists in California for decades. Sierra Club of California director Kathryn Phillips said she worries about the ramifications of such a hasty decision.

“In this case, we worry that the lack of review and oversight might result in unintended environmental and public health harms,” she said.

Yes, yes, yes, Newsom said. He knows this is going to upset some of his environmental allies. However, the governor said something needs to be done since wildfires last year destroyed 1.9 million acres and totally destroyed the entire town of Paradise. That fire — he also notes — killed 85 people.

“I’ve made no bones that if we can fast-track CEQA for arenas and football stadiums, we certainly should be able to do so to save peoples’ lives,” Newsom said. At the same time he emphasized the decision will bump these projects up to being done in two months instead of two years.

“It’s a controversial one. I’m not naive. Some people want to maintain our processes and they want to maintain our rules and protocols. But I am going to push back on that,” Newsom said.

Officials from cities around the state are thrilled with the governor’s action. State Sen. Mike McGuire — also a Democrat — is the mayor of Healdsburg. McGuire said, “The state must speed up the removal of dead and dying trees and vegetation management. The quicker we move, the safer our communities will be.”

Other environmentalists have also jumped on the wagon and are calling Newsom’s decision “Trumpian” in reference to the way the president has acted with some issues. Of course, the governor took exception to that comparison.

“I think this is the right thing to do because there is a deep sense of urgency and anxiety… he noted and then said, “The values we hold dear in terms of environmental practices, we can do both. It’s not one or the other.”

And while the governor is looking at getting ready for a wildfire season early, California Sen. Bill Dodd is looking at getting the state more involved in how the state’s utilities manage vegetation around their equipment.

He’s introduced legislation — SB 247 — that addresses current law. Regulations now say the utilities can decide what does or does not need trimmed. Obviously, they’re not all that successful. Under Dodd’s new bill, if the utilities don’t do the managing, the state will and — if his bill is passed — the utilities will pay the cost of that maintenance.

“It’s clear that the current standard is not working,” Dodd said. “We need to make sure appropriate tree trimming and line maintenance occurs. The well-being of California communities and our very lives depend on it.”

SB 247 will instruct Cal Fire to tell the utilities what to trim and will — after — inspect the work to make sure it is done correctly. “The public needs to know that there is real, independent oversight, not just someone in an office reviewing paperwork submitted by utilities,” Dodd said. “This bill will help prevent future wildfires and ultimately reduce costs (to) ratepayers.”

By the way, a separate bill would ban utilities from spending the money they budget for maintenance to other sources.

Source links: The Press Democrat, Daily Republic

Tags:  insurance content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  Wildfires 

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Trump & California Duel Over Wildfire Assistance

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 15, 2019

 

California Governor Gavin Newsom says the state will be on the financial hook for at least $923 million in damages for the wildfire that destroyed Paradise and other California communities last year.

That’s 25% of the overall damages. The federal government will cover the rest. Well, maybe the federal government will cover it. More on that in a bit.

Newsom is also asking the Legislature to approve $400 million to reduce the fuel available for fire in fire-prone areas and to improve the state’s ability to fight fire when it breaks out. He’s also seeking $60 million this year and next to improve emergency communications.

The governor asked President Trump to double the federal dollars the state needs to deal with wildfires and forest management. The president’s response was to threaten to withhold all federal dollars. He has been highly critical of California’s past management of forests.

Trump has — at least for the time being — ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stop giving the state money until “they get their act together.”

In his tweet on the matter, Trump said, “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money.”

He later corrected the misspelling of forest.

The new House of Representatives Minority Leader is California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy. He has defended the president’s comments on the state’s forest management but said he’s going to propose more funds for forest management in the spending bills being introduced to reopen the federal government.

What set the president off was a letter sent by Newsom and Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon Governor Kate Brown asking for double the federal funding. The governors pointed out that over half of California’s 33 million acres of forest is federal land and the dollars available for forest management has been going down since 2016.

“Our significant state-level efforts will not be as effective without a similar commitment to increased wildland management by you, our federal partners,” the letter said.

Newsom also said by itself California has promised to double its spending by $1 billion over the next five-years. “Disasters and recovery are no time for politics. I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses,” Newsom tweeted. “The people of CA — folks in Paradise — should not be victims to partisan bickering.”

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein backed Newsom and the West Coast governors.

“It’s absolutely shocking for President Trump to suggest he would deny disaster assistance to communities destroyed by wildfire,” she said. “Attacking victims is yet another low for this president.”

Source links: The Tribune, Insurance Journal, PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  president trump  Trump  wildfires 

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Wildfire Claims to Top $10 Billion 2nd Year in Row

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Aon’s annual Global Catastrophe Report has bad news for the industry. For the second year in a row claims payouts for wildfire losses will top $10 billion.

The worst wildfire was California’s Camp Fire. It destroyed most of the city of Paradise and killed 88 people. Dozens are still missing so the death toll is likely to rise even more.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) 19,357 homes, businesses and other structures were destroyed in the fire. At the same time, another 2,000 structures were destroyed in the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and and Los Angeles counties.

Economic losses for both fires are staggering and have been predicted to be from $12 to $15 billion. Insurer losses will be way over $10 billion when you consider these are just two of the large fires experienced in the state in the last year.

And that’s just California. Other states have experienced huge losses from wildfires, too.

Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist said, “With annual wildfire industry payouts expected to exceed $10 billion for the second consecutive year in the United States, the standard assumption of wildfire being a secondary peril may evolve in the future,” he said. “While insurers remain firmly in position to handle the volume of claims in the aftermath of recent events, these heightened losses put a further spotlight on the growing risk of the peril around the world.”

Bowen added that wildfires keep hitting the same locations on a regular basis. He suggests it may be time to look at more ways to mitigate losses.

Source link: Carrier Management

Tags:  insurance content  insurance industry  insurance news  wildfires 

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Special Report — California’s Wildfire Complications

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Two huge fires in California. The Carr Fire — which has killed people — and 16 others are plaguing the Golden State and causing billions in damages. A fire in the Clear Lake area is called the Mendocino Complex Fire. It is now the largest fire in California history and is a raging inferno that is gobbling up all the homes and businesses in its path.

Worse, there are over 60 uncontrolled fires burning in the seven states of the West.

Moody’s says the Carr Fire in the Redding area will cost insurers $1.5 billion. Aon’s risk analysis arm Impact Forecasting agrees. “The July 2018 fires in California follow what was the costliest year ever recorded for the insurance industry with the wildfire peril in 2017. Insurers paid out more than USD14 billion in insurance claims due to fire damage around the world, almost entirely due to the October and December events in California. In the industry’s history, only ten individual fires have prompted more than USD1 billion in payouts (2018 USD),” Aon said in a news release.

Moody’s said insurers selling homeowners insurance will take the biggest hit. With over 40,000 people evacuated, insurers are going to be on the hook for additional living expenses. Commercial insurers will see claims for business interruption rise.

The ratings firm says the average cost per home is close to $991,000. High construction costs from the 2017 fires is driving up the cost per home. Then there’s the hit from the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan — or FAIR Plan. Insurers are required pay into the insurer of the last resort plan that insurers property in remote locations or with high wildfire exposure.

Those payments are based on marketshare in 2017. That means State Farm with $1.3 billion, Farmers at $1.2 billion, CSAA’s $520 million and Auto Club’s $499 million will pay the most. 

Moody’s also said we’re likely to see insurers “reassessing” how it insurers property in California.

“Several recent academic studies have concluded that wildfire exposure for the Western U.S. has increased in recent years because of drier forests, a longer burning season, and higher average temperatures. After record losses in 2017, California homeowners and commercial property insurers will likely continue to reassess their exposures, pricing and reinsurance arrangements with regard to wildfires,” the Moody’s report concluded.

So far this year losses from wildfire in California have topped $12 billion. It’s a test case of sorts for the seven states we mentioned earlier in this story. Verisk Insurance Solutions said more than 13% of the homes in those states are at risk for wildfire.

Insurance commissioner Dave Jones calls it a “growing problem.” The “new normal” is Governor Jerry Brown’s definition as over two-million California homes are among that 13%. Both men worry that insurers will be leaving the state or will seriously restrict where they will insure. 

It’s a claim Mark Sektnan of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) denies. “California insurance companies are well-regulated, well-capitalized, and heavily reinsured to protect consumers and ensure claims are paid following major catastrophes like the current 2018 California wildfires. California continues to have a competitive and healthy homeowner's market,” he said.

However, there are rumors of non-renewal. Liberty Mutual and one other insurer have said they’re going to make restrictions on what they insure.

In its statement, Liberty Mutual said, “Catastrophic wildfires pose a significant risk to our customers and our company. Our primary goal is to ensure that we are there for our customers when they need us the most and can deliver on our promise to handle claims quickly and fairly. Unfortunately, due to California’s wildfire experience in recent years, we have had to take the difficult but necessary step to responsibly manage our overall catastrophe exposure, safeguarding our ability to pay policyholders’ homeowner claims. This is the same approach we use to manage our business throughout the country. As a result, we expect to non-renew about 1 percent of our California property customers this year. These policies are all located in areas with high levels of wildfire exposure and will have met specific physical conditions.”

That led to a bill sponsored by State Sen. Bill Dodd that will restrict cancellations to two-years after a disaster like wildfire or mudslides.

However, the California Department of Insurance says cancellations are hard to track and it believes non-renewals in California jumped 15% from 2015 to 2016. There are no estimates from 2016 to now. 

Meanwhile, Governor Brown said the state can expect even more fires before the official wildfire ends. “We’re in for a really rough ride, and it’s going to get expensive and it’s going to get dangerous. We have to apply all our creativity to make the best out of an increasingly bad situation, not just in California but all over America and all over the world.”

With that Commissioner Jones set out some policies to help insureds with their claims. In a statement issued last week Jones said, “Survivors of these destructive wildfires need all the help we can provide. I am asking California insurers to adopt the expedited claims handling procedures, move quickly to expand their claim adjuster teams to handle the large volume of claims and make sure those professionals are properly trained on California laws and regulations. We are focused on helping survivors, as they begin the long process of rebuilding their homes and their lives.”

He has ordered insurers to give insureds who are displaced an advance payment for up to four months of additional living expenses and 25% of policy limits for personal property as well ordering them to set up an expedited process for debris clearing as a first-step for rebuilding.

Source links: Artemis, Insurance Journal, CBS News, The Hill, CBS Sacramento

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Weekly Industry News  wildfires  Wildfires: The West Burning Out of Control 

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Your Clients & Wildfire — Some Suggestions

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The West is on fire. People are dying in those fires.

One Redding, California man — Ed Bledsoe — told CBS News his family didn’t get warned when fire attacked Redding. He left the house to run an errand and left his wife and great grandchildren at home. About 15-minutes after leaving his wife called to say fire was approaching. One of the kids told his great grandmother that fire was at the back door.

The man tried to return. A roadblock stopped Bledsoe’s trip back by car and a wall of flames kept him from getting to the house. His wife and great grandchildren died in that fire.

Bledsoe said they were not warned of the danger. If he’d been warned, he would not have left on that errand.

The sheriff’s department said they notify people a number of ways and that includes going door-to-door and using loudspeakers from emergency vehicles. News media is used as well as the integrated Public Alert and Warning System. It sends warnings to cellphones.

Bledsoe and his family didn’t get the message.

That leads to the first important piece of advice to share with your clients. When there is wildfire in your area, pay attention. When fires burn at that speed, warnings become critical and so does being prepared and aware.

Another danger is not leaving. Too many people choose not to leave. Reports from the Carr Fire — and other fires around the Western states — say some stay to fight the fire and save their property. Also not the brightest thing someone can do when facing a wall of fire.

That brings us to some important tips we found in a story done on the PropertyCasualty360.com website. These are the should not do and the should do things your clients need to know:

Do

1. Listen to authorities to find out when it is safe to return, and whether water is safe to drink.

2. Use caution when re-entering a burned area — flare-ups can occur. If you find fire, call 911 immediately.

3. Wear a mask rated N-95 or better while cleaning up.

4. Put on gloves, long pants and a long sleeve shirt. Wear boots with good soles.

5. Walk carefully. When ash gets wet, it can be slippery.

6. Check you property for hot spots: smoldering stumps and vegetation, ash pits (holes created by burned trees filled with hot ash).

7. Check the roof and exterior of your house for sparks and embers. Be sure to check rain gutters, under decking, in crawlspaces and in any piles of debris for embers.

8. Check for the smell of gas. If you smell gas, leave the house and turn the supply off at the tank or outside valve. Open the doors and windows and contact your utility provider.

9. Check the attic and throughout the house for hidden burning sparks and embers.

10. Give your pets a bath to get rid of ash.

11. Wash toys before children play with them.

12. Throw away frozen food that might’ve thawed during a power outage. Also, throw away food, beverages or medications that were not in airtight containers. This includes products that have been stored in cardboard or other soft packaging.

13. Toss plastic bottles, like bottles of water, that have ash on the caps. Rinsing bottle caps is not enough to decontaminate the containers.

14. Place any ash you collect into a plastic bag, so it doesn’t blow away.

15. Document property damage with photographs or video. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance agent for assistance.

16. Ask your insurance provider what you should do about covering broken windows, doors, and other exposed areas, pumping out water and any other activities you may need to do to secure your home.

Don’t

1. Don’t start cleaning or throwing away anything until you have contacted your insurance company.

2. Don’t turn on a flashlight inside a damaged home. The battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.

3. Don’t turn on your electricity if you seen any damage to your meter.

4. Don’t try to fix any damaged gas meters, gas lines or propane tanks. If you find damage, call your local utility provider.

5. Don’t touch any downed wires. Again, call your utility provider.

6. Don’t let kids play in the ash whether its dry or wet.

7. Don’t let ash linger on our skin. If ash does get on your skin, wash it off using warm water and soap.

8. Don’t eat the food in your refrigerator if there was a long power outage.

9.  Don’t kick up more ash into the air. Avoid using your leaf blower to clean up the ash. The Los Angeles County Department of Health suggests sweeping the ash carefully, and then using a wet mop.

10. Don’t use your average home vacuum cleaner to clean up ash unless it has a HEPA-filter. Regular vacuum cleaners will just blow the particles back into the air.

11. Don’t plug a generator directly into your home’s electrical panel or power meter — the power can flow back out onto the wires on the street and give workers a bad shock.

12. If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.

13. Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.

14. Don’t use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.

15. Don’t attempt to open or save any container of potentially hazardous material (or of unknown content) that has been burned or is bulging.

16. Don’t assume the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the only financial assistance you need. A Presidential Disaster Declaration must be established in order for a community to become eligible for FEMA funding. Ensure your expectations of FEMA are realistic. FEMA does not replace homes or businesses (except in extremely rare cases). FEMA assistance, when provided, is not a substitute for insurance but rather will provide minimum assistance to get people on their feet after a disaster.

Lastly, the website — who got most of this information from FEMA/Ready.gov, Colorado State University Extension, the American Red Cross, the Ready For Wildfire, Los Angeles County and the British Columbia government — urges you to tell your clients to use caution and good judgement when confronted by wildfire.

Ultimately — PropertyCasualty360.com — says, you are responsible for your own safety and well-being.

Source links: Insurance Business America, PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  wildfires 

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Spring on its Way: Wildfires Won’t be Far Behind

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wildfires are the scourge of the West these days. One of the causes of the record number of acres burned in the last couple of years is human beings. And it’s the one cause that can be controlled — or so says a recent report from two people identified as fire ecologists.

What’s most concerning is humans are the biggest cause of fire with lightning strikes coming in a distant second. Melissa Forder is a fire ecologist. She put that statement in perspective and said 60% of the fires in national parks are human caused and they are listed as “intentionally set fires, buildings burning and spreading into the forest, smoking, equipment malfunctions and campfires.”

University of Colorado fire ecologist Jennifer Balch looked at fire records for the last 21 years and found there have been 1.5 million fires. She said when you look at all forests — and not just national parks — Forder’s figure of 60% rises to 84% and “We are playing a really substantial role in shifting fire around.”

As a result, Balch says, not only are people causing the vast majority of wildfires, they're also extending the normal fire season around the country by three months. “I think acknowledging that fact is really important particularly right now when we have evidence that climate is changing, and climate is warming, and that fires are increasing in size and the fire season is increasing,” she said.

Source link: NPR

 

Tags:  fires  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Spring on its Way: Wildfires Won’t be Far Behind  Weekly Industry News  wildfires 

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Wildfire Season Done — Even More Risk Coming in 2017

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The 2016 wildfire season — as Weekly Industry News reported last week — wasn’t as bad as it has been the last couple of years and especially last year when it set records. And while that’s a good thing, the annual CoreLogic Wildfire Risk Report says we aren’t likely to have that happy circumstance in the future. It noted that there are 1.8 million single-family homes in the 13 Western states that are in extreme risk or high risk danger of wildfire damage.

 

And the total price tag for all those homes? Try $500 billion.

 

California has the most homes in both categories at 645,445 properties. Texas and Colorado are second and third with 532,317 and 195,601 homes respectively. The three states also have the highest reconstruction value with California at $250 billion, Texas sitting close to $94 billion and Colorado pushing past $54 billion.

 

Why is this important?

 

On average in the last 20 years 5.8 million acres in the West have burned every year. That number nearly doubled in 2015 to 10.1 million and it is felt this year’s low figure is an anomaly and that it’ll get worse in the future and not better.

 

Tom Jeffrey authored the report for CoreLogic. He said the governors of many Western state are pouring more resources into fighting wildfires and were able to address them early which helped keep the acreage burned down in 2016.

 

And the governors aren’t alone. Jeffrey said people in risk areas are also starting to catch on. People in high risk areas, and especially in California with the drought, everybody gets the story. They understand that there’s a risk, and I think that individual homeowners are doing more to mitigate their property and that’s helping a lot too,” he said.

 

Jeffrey added another important aspect to address and one that isn’t being properly done, is limiting growth on wilderness boundaries aka the wildland urban interface. It’s growing and means even more homes are now in danger.

 

Carole Walker of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association agrees with Jeffrey and the CoreLogic report. Wildfire is a risk that science demonstrates that we can reduce damage and destruction of property by doing ongoing wildfire mitigation both as individuals and communities. Wildland urban interface residents also need to consider their insurability and at least on an annual basis update their insurance coverage and costs to repair and rebuild their homes,” she said.

 

These are the at risk home figures for the nine PIA Western Alliance states:

State Extreme Risk
(Score 80-100) 
High Risk
(Score 61-79)
Moderate Risk
(Score 51-60) 
Low Risk
(Score 1-50)
Arizona 26,782
28,882 11,375 2.024 million
California
263,152 382,293 136,913 8.322 million
Idaho 41,230
26,647 10,795
500,028
Montana 29,902
21,079 10,795 274,441
Nevada  6.325 7,556 1,249 876,382
New Mexico 38,911 24,318 8,453 540,335
Oregon
80,261
50,413 22,977 1.400 million
Washington 18,323 14,272 7,891
2.256 million

 

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  Wildfire Season Done — Even More Risk Coming in 20  wildfires 

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Predictions — Wildfires to Winter

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 25, 2016

 

The wildfire season in the West is pretty much over. Snow in the Cascades of Washington and Oregon and in Montana’s Rocky Mountains and Northern California’s Siskiyou range have put an end to things. Wildfire is still a bit of a problem in Southern California but it’s growing more manageable by the day.

 

Here’s some good news. The wildfire season of 2016 burned 7,500 square miles and that’s below average. The 10-year average is 10,000 square miles says Boise, Idaho’s National Interagency Fire Center spokeswoman Jessica Gardetto.

 

“Just to compare, last year we burned over 10 million acres (15,625 square miles), and this year we didn't even reach 5 million (7,812 square miles) nationally. So, we burned twice as many acres last year as we did this year,” she said.

 

As we slide through fall and into winter forecasters are pushing their weather prognostications. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) U.S. Climate Prediction Center said La Nina is going to give the northern U.S. more rain and cooler temps. And the nation’s southern regions will see a drier, warmer winter.

 

Mike Halpert of the Climate Prediction Center said La Nina will develop late in the fall or early winter and if those conditions develop at all, they will be weak and short-lived. This climate outlook provides the most likely outcome for the upcoming winter season, but it also provides the public with a good reminder that winter is just up ahead and it’s a good time to prepare for typical winter hazards, such as extreme cold and snowstorms,” he said.

 

Here is NOAA’s official 2016 winter outlook for December, 2016 through February, 2017:

 

Precipitation

  • Wetter than normal conditions are most likely in the northern Rockies, around the Great Lakes, in Hawaii and in western Alaska
  • Drier than normal conditions are most likely across the entire southern U.S. and southern Alaska

 

Temperature

  • Warmer than normal conditions are most likely across the southern U.S., extending northward through the central Rockies, in Hawaii, in western and northern Alaska and in northern New England
  • Cooler conditions are most likely across the northern tier from Montana to western Michigan
  • The rest of the country falls into the equal chance” category, meaning that there is not a strong enough climate signal in these areas to shift the odds, so they have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation

 

Drought

  • Drought will likely persist through the winter in most regions currently experiencing drought, including much of California and the Southwest
  • Drought is expected to persist and spread in the southeastern U.S. and develop in the southern Plains
  • Drought improvement is anticipated in northern California, the northern Rockies, the northern Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley

 

What NOAA doesn’t know is where and when we’ll see snow and it can’t give snowfall accumulations.

 

Source links: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Insurance Journal

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Predictions — Wildfires to Winter  Weekly Industry News  wildfires  winter 

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Fires: Still Raging as We Move into Fall

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

 

Wildfires are still burning throughout the West. California alone has seen 5,000 fires since the fire season began. The Big Sur fire — as we’ll discuss in a bit — is still burning and is now the most expensive fire in history. The U.S. National Park Service says 90% of fires are human caused from unattended campfires, the burning of debris when it ought not be burned and cigarettes tossed out of vehicles or while walking.

 

There’s also the very disturbing intentional setting of fires.

 

The state is aggressively seeking those causing fires and some are charged with crimes. Police arrested a man — Damin Pashilk — and charged him with 17 counts of arson including the 4,000-acre Clayton Fire. He has a lengthy list of similar arrests police say.

 

In Oregon the state is going after four people and want them to pay the $4.5 million it took to put out fires they’ve been accused of starting. The first is against 64-year old Joe Askins and his wife and stepdaughter. They are accused of building a campfire in an area where it was banned.

 

The state said he was napping while the fire burned and it eventually took over 200-acres and cost $892,000 to extinguish.

 

The second suit is for $3.6 million and it’s against Eastern Oregon rancher John Habberstad who drove his utility vehicle on extremely dry grass with an exhaust system in need of repair. Sparks — the officials say — ignited a 2,700-acre fire.

 

Mother Nature’s lightning strikes — cold and hot — and in tinder dry areas of the West also cause fires but not that many compared to the human causes. A U.S. Forest Service report said, Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970. The U.S. burns twice as many acres as three decades ago and Forest Service scientists believe the acreage burned may double again by mid-century. Increasing development in fire-prone areas also puts more stress on the Forest Service’s suppression efforts.

 

Meanwhile the Big Sur fire also knowns as the Soberanes Fire has been burning for two months and as of late last week the price tag is $208.4 million. That price is going to go way up because as of last Friday, the fire is only 71% contained.

 

And it is now the most expensive fire in history. The reason is the amount of time burning and not the 121,000 acres burned so far. By the way, the amount just listed is the cost of fighting the fire. It does not include the cost of the homes, businesses and other structures burned.

 

It is human caused. An unattended — and worse, illegal — campfire is the cause. Cal Fire is still looking for the person responsible and is encouraging people to call 800-468-4408 if they know anything or anything about someone causing a fire.

 

Source links: National Park Service, Think Progress, OregonLive.com

 

Tags:  fires  Fires: Still Raging as We Move into Fall  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  wildfires 

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It’s Mid-Summer & the West is on Fire

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 31, 2016

 

 

Wildfires are rampant — as they have been the last couple of years — around all of the PIA Western Alliance states and other states in the West. It’s bad enough when lightning or careless campers or homeowners start fires, but some are arson.

 

That’s the case in Oregon where officials say at least 14 of the fires in the state’s central region were arson caused. Those same officials released few details on that arson and whether it is the same person for each or not, but did advise people to pay attention and to report suspicious activity.

 

As of mid-week last week the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho said there were 112 new fires burning in the West. That’s new fires. And at the time there were another 54 large fires still out of control and not contained.

 

Here's a look at the major wildfires in the West:

 

   California — 9 fires

   Idaho — 5 fires

   Montana — 2 fires

   Oregon — 3 fires

   Washington — 6 fires

 

Source: Insurance Journal, National Interagency Fire Center

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  It’s Mid-Summer & the West is on Fire  Weekly Industry News  wildfires 

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