To date, the current Northern California wildfire season is proving to be one of the most destructive in terms of structural damage and tragic loss of life. Before this, the Cedar Fire in 2003 and Witch Creek Fire in 2007 damaged or destroyed approximately 2,820 and 1,650 structures respectively, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The Napa area fires in Northern CA destroyed nearly 6000 structures and to date, has taken over 40 lives, in what appears to be the worst wildfire disaster in state history.
California is known for having earthquakes, but devastation due to wildfire happens much more frequently. Years of severe drought have created high levels of dead fuel, or dry vegetation. Combined with strong offshore, or a foehn wind (a dry, warm, down slope wind), it has left many CA residents at high risk. As we continue to move closer to wildfire prone areas, whether for recreation, or to build homes, the risk of unintentional fire ignition rises. Property loss, and loss of life by wildfire, is a harsh reality for those on the west coast who choose to live within the wildland urban interface.
If you live in an area prone to wild fires, there are a few things you can do to help prevent property loss. Here are 5 tips:
- Build or reroof your home with fire resistive roofing material
- Enclose the underside of balconies or ground decks with fire resistive materials
- Clear pine needles, leaves, trees or other debris that touch, or hang over your roof, or collect in your gutters
- Create a “defensible space” by removing all dry grass, brush, and dead leaves at least 100 feet from you home. Use ornamental landscaping plants that are fire resistant
- Stack firewood and scrap wood piles at least 30 feet away from structures. Clear flammable vegetation that is within 10 feet of these wood piles
Contact your homeowners (renters, or condo) insurance agent to see if your carrier offers wildfire mitigation services. They may also have practical tips for things such as creating a household inventory, or an evacuation plan. You should also refer to your local fire protection district websites, such as the ones listed below, for suggestions that are specific to the hazards in your area.
Venbrook Insurance Services offers insurance quotes with carriers such as Chubb, AIG Private Client Group, and Nationwide Private Client, who provide wildfire prevention services to their policyholders.
Check your local fire department website and these helpful Links:
For more insights into risk exposures, and other areas impacting the insurance industry today, please contact me directly via email or phone
Ana Preston| Personal Lines Manager | firstname.lastname@example.org | 818-598-8923
Image credit: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team