Fire Danger in California And How It Can Impact You
With all of the recent fires going crazy all over the state of California, it is important to know how you can protect your own home and the ones you love.
2017 was the year of wild fires. California was hit especially hard.
We tend to think that once fall and winter come along, the wet rains and cold weather will protect us from fire danger.
In reality, the seasons are not the same as they once were. Winds pick up in the fall as a result of Santa Ana winds.
Some might say that global warming has a part to play in this fire game as well.
It isn’t unusual for there to be natural disasters and fire.
Fire is a way for the earth to clean up and add new growth for the following year.
But because people and animals live in such close proximity, it effects us greatly.
The parts of the country that are most influenced are the densely populated areas.
We build homes on steep hill with beautiful views.
But what we tend to forget is that we don’t have control over what happens. The weather is not always predictable.
The most important thing we can do to help prevent more devastation is to have the best cheap homeowners insurance possible.
Homeowners Insurance And How It Can Work For You
If you own a home in an area that is at all in danger of going up in flames, you need to add fire protection to your homeowners policy.
You may rent, and in that case your land lord may have fire protection.
The property inside of your home are also valuable to you.
Make sure that you get your special belongings covered.
No, you won’t be able to replace family heirlooms when a fire hits, but you can recoup a lot of what is lost.
First let’s take a look at what homeowners insurance is and what it covers:
- A homeowners policy isn’t necessarily a law, but most people choose to have it when they purchase a home. Some lenders require that you attain this to make sure that you are covered for your house and make sure the loan is protected. Mortgage insurance is also a requirement. When it comes to getting your homeowners policy, it is best to talk to a qualified broker so that you can have exactly what you need.
- Homeowners insurance is in place in case a disaster such as a fire occurs and your home is destroyed. You will need it insured to pay off the loan on the home and recover damages.
- Credit can be an important rating factor when looking for homeowners insurance. The difference in cost between someone that has excellent credit versus poor credit is nearly half.
- Homeowners insurance covers four basic types of insurance: structure, personal belongings, liability, and additional living expenses.
- You have a few different types of coverage: a cash value coverage, a replacement cost coverage and a guaranteed or exceeded cost coverage.
- Not every type of damage is covered by homeowners insurance. Ask your agent if you have something specific you would like covered.
- You can shop around for the best insurance rates. Ask about bundling your homeowners insurance with your car insurance and life insurance. You could save a lot of money each year doing it that way.
Where Disaster Has Struck In California
Here is a list and short biography on where these horrific California fires have struck in 2017.
The fires are still burning in Southern California, and there is no real way to estimate the total cost of damage.
- From January 2cd, 2017 through Dec. 10th 2017, over 500 thousand acres have burned in California. It includes over 6 thousand different fires. That is twice the amount as 2016, which was just under 250 thousand acres. Why so much fire? Well, the wind has played a huge part. As well as the drought that has been around for the past few years.
So where have these fires burned?
- The largest so far is the Thomas Fire. This is burning in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. This has burned 237 thousand acres. That is almost the amount of all of 2016 state fires combined. California has never burned so badly. This fire as of Dec. 13th, 2017, is only 25% contained. It continues to burn and because of the changing winds, is hard to control or to monitor.
- The Lilac Fire is currently burning in San Diego County and has covered around 4,200 cares so far. It is 95% contained.
- The Murrieta Fire at 300 acres which is now fully contained.
- Mariposa Fire burned 6,700 acres in the north fork and nearly 7,00o in the south fork.
- The Los Angeles Creek Fire has burned nearly 4,000 acres.
- A Fresno fire burned almost 10 thousand acres due to electrical lines falling down earlier in the year.
- A San Luis Obispo Fire started up in July of this year and burned nearly 30 thousand acres.
- A Kings County fire that was nearly 70 thousand acres scorched through some of the central valley due to an equipment failure.
More fires in California:
- A Second Mariposa fire broke out in late July that torched 100 thousand acres. Mariposa is close to Yosemite National Park and was devastating for the National Forest.
- Sonoma County had one of the largest fires it has ever seen this year. Burning over 100 thousands acres, many wineries, homes and buildings were taken out. over 40 residents perished in these fires.
- Mendocino, which is normally a very lush and wet area burned over 30 thousand acres this year.
These are just some of the fires raging in the west. There are hundreds of other small fires around California this year that didn’t make the news. The largest to date is the Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Devastating to the people who live there are well as the wild life.
The Perfect Storm
So why are there so many fires this year? What is the perfect storm for a fire and when are they most likely to burn?
Fire season is usually late May to late November.
That seems like along time to have fire danger right?
Well, this year fires have been raging well into December. In fact the worst fire in years has been burning in the month of December.
Frankly there has just been no rain in Southern California.
But wait, didn’t we just have one of the wettest winters on record?
This doesn’t mean that our ground, trees, or plants were given back what has been taken.
And in fact, when such tall grass grows in the spring because of large amounts of rain this is bad for fire season.
What happens, is that eventually this grass dries out, but is still tall and plentiful. It is a perfect match to set ablaze a wildfire.
What causes fire?
- What causes fires? Well, lightning for one. The weather around us is the number one factor for fires raging. And yes, lightning qualifies as weather. In 2008, over 100 thousand acres burned in the California jurisdiction just from Lightning.
- That is twice the amount of any other year previously.
- Typically lightning causes less than 10 % of wildfires burned in California.
- Arson is another factor. Over a five year span, the average damage done to the state of California from fires created by arson was 5 million dollars. That is an average. In 2008, 25 million dollars was spent on recovering the state from arson damage.
- The cost of fire damage is pretty unbelievable.
Do you ever wonder why firemen make so much money and have such stable jobs?
Because we need them in the state of California.
Here is an example of how fire damage is just getting worse and worse:
In the 2000-2001 season, the fund for suppression costs for fire damage was 114 million dollars.
In the 2016-2017 season, the fund for suppression costs for fire damage were 500 million.
No wonder people buy such high-cost homeowners insurance.
It isn’t just homeowners insurance that will help people after devastation.
Businesses struggle when there is fire. Not only is there damage to the buildings themselves, but smoke damage as well as destruction of goods.
All of these things costs money to replace.
Loss Comes In Many Shapes And Sizes
Fires can not only be dangerous to homes and business but people. Depending on where you live, your life could be in jeopardy. California is known for its steep mountain passes and isolated roads. Drive anywhere in Los Angeles County and you will recognize how badly trapped you could be in a fire. Death of people and animals is a reality for those who live in this state. Not to unnecessarily scare you, but the reality is: fire is becoming more and more of a problem.
Here are some statistics from 2017:
- Just in the northern California fires the took place in Sonoma County, 42 people were killed. Not to mention hundreds of animals.
- In San Diego, there was one race track where 500 horses had to be turned free to keep from being burned. Another equestrian facility had 30 horses parish in a fire. They were trapped in a barn and there was no way out. Now, some argue that there should be stricter laws on animal capacity limits for these densely populated cities.
- In this most devastating fire in California’s history, the Thomas Fire still burning in Southern California has only claimed one life. Why is this? There was planning, a great evacuation plan, and more are to spread out. The Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties are not as densely populated. And because of the northern California fires that burned in October, there may have been a lesson learned.
What is Happening To This State?
There area few conclusions that you can draw from this extreme fire season. And a few lessons to be learned as well.
- First of all, climate does have a part to play.
- Second of all, we could all learn something about where and how we build our homes and structures. Cheap homeowners insurance can only hold so much security.
- The absolute worst fire to ever reside over California as far as acreage burned and structures taken out was the Cedar Fire in San Diego. This fire in October of 2003 was one of any to come that destroyed so much of the state and caused people to take a closer look at climate and how it effects the environment.
- Wind is another huge factor that leads small fires to rage into huge ones. Something that we could all learn from this is that weather is unpredictable. We all want to live on that beautiful mountain top, but the higher up we go, the gustier wind becomes usually. Know more about the place you live and how to protect yourself and your home. Having a separate water tank just for fires is a great idea. If you don’t live in town, but up in the mountains, it could take quite some time for the fire trucks to reach you. In some cases, large fire trucks cannot make the climb up at all.
Homes are destroyed in fires for many reasons.
But a lot of it has to do with the way they are built and how much water is accessible.
- A stucco sided house with a tin roof and a sprinkler system is in much better shape than a 40 year old wooden structure.
- There are many ways to protect your home, just ask an insurance broker.
- Soaking the roof and sides when you know a fire is near can decrease chances of it catching fire.
- Having the lawn around your home watered as much as possible is a great idea.
- If you have a drought tolerant yard, make sure that extra shrubs and dried leaves are removed.
- You should always have current smoke detectors installed in your home.
- Hoses readily available on the exterior of your home will make it easy to get things wet.
- Make sure you have a clear escape plan, Especially if you live in the hills. Tight and windy roads can be hellish to try to escape from.
- If you have livestock, be prepared with an evacuation plan. Make sure there are enough halters for horses, collars for dogs and don’t over crowd.
- Have a safe and clear path mowed along the perimeter of your property.
California The Beauty
The best part about living in California, is that this state is progressive and forward thinking.
We realize that the fires here are a threat.
California trains and hires some of the best fire fighters in the world.
We have plans drawn for recovery efforts and a large budget to cover these horrific fire seasons.
As the fire seasons continue to get worse and worse, think of ways that you as an individual can make life easier.
Don’t build a home in a high fire risk area. Make sure you have access to water. Install the proper safety features.
And purchase the best homeowners insurance policy you can find.