Insurance claims on $9 billion from California fires

FILE – In this Nov. 11, 2018 file photo, a house burned down by a forest fire is located on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California. The authorities estimate that it costs at least $3 billion through the rubble of 19,000 homes destroyed by forest fires California in the last month. State and federal officials, disaster relief, said Tuesday, Jan. 11, that the private contractors will probably begin the removal of rubble in January of Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties and the costs are likely to exceed initial estimates. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Insurance claims from the previous month to California forest fires already at $9 billion and expected to increase the state insurance commissioner announced Wednesday.

Approximately $7 billion of claims from the Camp Fire that the Northern California town of Paradise and killed at least 86 people, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in at least a century. The rest is for the Woolsey and Hill fires in Southern California.

Collectively, the fire damaged or destroyed more than 20,000 structures, with the vast majority in and around the Paradise. On Tuesday, the state and the federal government is estimated to cost at least $3 billion to rubble.

“The devastating forest fires of 2018 were the deadliest and most costly wildfire disasters in California history,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said, adding that “behind the insured damage numbers are thousands of people who have been traumatized by unimaginable loss.”

There are more than 28,000 claims for residential, personal property, nearly 2,000 commercial real estate and 9,400 in the auto receivables and other receivables for the fire.

That is well above the number of claims filed after a series of fires that tore through Northern California wine country last year. Losses from burning were initially pegged at $3.3 billion, but eventually grew to $10 billion.

The cleaning fee for the final month of the burn also will surpass the record charge of $ 1.3 billion, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers spent on the removal of the remains in Northern California in 2017.

California Office of Emergency services Director Mark Ghilarducci said that the state will manage cleaning contracts of this time. Last year, hundreds of Northern California homeowners complained that the contractors are paid by the tonnes disposed of to a lot of dirt and damaged continuous driveways, sidewalks and pipes. The state OES spent millions to repair the damage.

Ghilarducci said that the state OES to hire auditors and monitors to watch over the removal of remains in the hope of cutting down the number of over-enthusiastic contractors.

“We have learned that a large number of the things,” last year, Ghilarducci said.

He said that the U.S. Corps of Engineers asked for the effort of last year because the state resources were stretched thin after answering more than a dozen forest fires. This year, he said, state officials can manage the cleaning and the cost will be shared between the state, federal and local governments.

Cleanup is expected to begin in January and take about a year, Ghilarducci said. State and federal officials are currently removing hazardous household materials from the damaged properties.


Associated Press writer Paul Elias in San Francisco contributed to this story.

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