Insured losses for property damaged in the Mendocino Complex wildfires, the largest blazes in state history, are more than $56 million to date, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said Thursday.
Together with the Carr fire, which burned more than 220,000 acres in Shasta and Trinity counties, insured losses from the July fires total $845 million and are expected to increase.
While those fires are either contained or nearing containment, more destructive blazes could still start, Jones said.
“Fire experts and fire officials tell us that traditionally, the worst and most destructive fires have occurred after Sept.1,” Jones said. “In fact, if you look at Cal Fire’s list of the top 20 most destructive fires in California’s history, 17 of those have occurred after Sept. 1. So while we’ve already had two very destructive fires … the worst may well be yet to come based on past history and experience.”
In the wake of the Mendocino Complex fires — two sister blazes ignited July 27 — more than 3,200 insurance claims have been filed for damage to homes, commercial businesses and vehicles in Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties. Those claims represent $51.5 million of insured losses, according to a report Thursday from the California Department of Insurance.
The bulk of the 3,008 residential property insurance claims were for partial home damage, including smoke and water, while 58 homes were destroyed.
The North Bay wildfires in October 2017, which tallied almost $10 billion in insured losses, continue to be the costliest wildfires in American history.
While the Mendocino Complex fires torched a record 459,102 acres, the flames were concentrated in wilderness areas after threatening thousands of homes, resulting in less monetary damage.
“Some of the fires like the Thomas fire (in Southern California) were burning in areas that were uninhabited, so there was a lot of acreage, but not a lot of people living in that space. We saw the same thing with the Mendocino Complex fire,” California Department of Insurance spokeswoman Nancy Kincaid said.
Separately, the Carr fire caused $788.9 million in insured losses in Shasta and Trinity counties.
Earlier, Lake County’s 2015 Valley fire, which burned 76,067 acres and destroyed 1,955 homes, caused $921 million in insured losses. It was the fourth most destructive wildfire in state history.
You can reach Staff Writer Hannah Beausang at 707-521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @hannahbeausang.
This story originally appeared in the Press Democrat.