A state of emergency has been declared in California as an out of control wildfire spreads through the Los Angeles foothills. It has been reported that the fire “nearly doubled in size overnight” with total acreage burned amounting to 35,000.
“These fires are still totally out of control,” California Gov. Schwarzenegger said at the fire’s command post in Lakeview Terrace. “This is a huge and very dangerous fire. The fire is moving very close to homes and to structures.”
The fires are currently threatening more than 12,000 buildings and residents of 10,000 homes have been told to evacuate. 2,000 firefighters are working to contain the blaze as the weather forecast projects continued hot, dry weather. Two firefighters died Sunday when their vehicle rolled off a hillside near Mount Gleason in the Angeles National Forest.
The most costly wildfire to date is the 1991 Oakland, California fire, which resulted in estimated insured losses of $2.7 billion (in 2008 dollars). The National Interagency Coordination Center lists the top ten states for wildland fires, ranked by number of fires for 2008:
- Texas 16,713 1,570,586
- California 5,812 1,339,839
- Oklahoma 5,572 196,563
- Georgia 5,454 23,081
- North Carolina 4,414 95,938
- Alabama 3,103 32,447
- Florida 2,939 156,102
- South Carolina 2,626 15,751
- Mississippi 1,898 27,399
- Arizona 1,850 85,496
The Insurance Information Institute states that “most of the large fires with significant property damage have occurred in California, where some of the fastest developing counties are in forest areas.” Stay tuned as we continue to post updates on the wildfire situation, and the losses resulting from it.