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California wildfire insured losses could reach $13 billion: RMS

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Cal Fire firefighters in Paradise, California

Insured losses for the Camp and Woolsey wildfires in California will be between $9 billion and $13 billion, catastrophe modeler Risk Management Solutions Inc. said Monday.

The majority of the losses, $7.5 billion to $10 billion, will be caused by the Camp fire, while some $1.5 billion to $3 billion is estimated for the Woolsey fire, RMS said in a statement. The estimates include property and auto damage including burn and smoke damage, business interruption, living expenses and contents loss.

Ignition, fire spread, ember accumulations, and smoke dispersion of the fires were simulated using RMS’ forthcoming North America wildfire high definition model, the statement said, adding the model’s findings were supported by damage reports from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as of Nov. 18, observations from displaced residents and information from firefighting personnel.

The Camp and Woolsey Fires have burned a combined total of 245,000 acres, destroyed more than 12,000 homes and businesses, and killed 80 people, RMS said, adding the Camp Fire, named for the road of its point of origin, is the most destructive fire in California history, with more than 11,000 structures burned.

This fire season represents the second consecutive year with more than $10 billion in insured wildfire loss, RMS said.

“Wildfire is now a major catastrophe risk that must be rigorously managed with the best data and model science,” Mohsen Rahnama, chief risk modeling officer for RMS, said in the statement. “In the wake of consecutive record-breaking wildfire seasons, we are hopeful that more focus will be placed on fire mitigation, safe construction practices, and community resilience.”