Wildfires Ravage Southern California

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:

  1. Texas                        16,713       1,570,586
  2. California                  5,812          1,339,839
  3. Oklahoma                 5,572          196,563
  4. Georgia                     5,454          23,081
  5. North Carolina          4,414           95,938
  6. Alabama                   3,103           32,447
  7. Florida                      2,939           156,102
  8. South Carolina         2,626           15,751
  9. Mississippi               1,898           27,399
  10. 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.

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One thought on “Wildfires Ravage Southern California

  1. Some interesting figures… We experienced a similar situation with the Black Saturday fires in Australia back in February. There were some horrible losses, and a large blame game ensued regarding fire prevention strategy and how the duty of care of emergency services… They’re still in the middle of the court case.

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