Carr & Mendocino wildfires destroy 1,734 structures, still expanding

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Wildfires in California have now destroyed 1,734 structures, 1,148 of which are residential properties, with another 304 structures damaged, as the Carr wildfire continues to burn and the Mendocino Complex wildfires expanded over the weekend.

Carr wildfire damage image via BBC and APAs we explained last week, it’s now assumed that the Carr wildfire will result in insurance and reinsurance industry losses of above $1 billion according to broker Aon, while Moody’s put the impact to the industry at up to $1.5 billion.

The Carr wildfire is now the sixth most destructive California wildfire on record and covering an area of 160,049 and still only 43% contained, further damage to property is likely and the town of Redding remains under threat.

Meanwhile the so-called Mendocino Complex wildfire, which is made up of the Ranch fire and River fire, has now expanded to cover 218,319 acres with the Ranch fire and another 48,663 with the River fire.

The Ranch fire is only 23% contained and still expanding, while the River fire is under more control at 58% contained.

The Carr wildfire has now destroyed 1,080 residential properties, 24 commercial properties and 500 outbuildings, with another 190 residential properties damaged, 26 commercial properties damaged and 62 outbuildings damaged.

The Carr wildfire continues to threaten another 1,358 structures, according to the authorities.

The Mendocino Complex wildfires has destroyed 68 residential properties and 62 other structures, with another 12 homes and 14 other structures damaged.

However, the threat from the Mendocino wildfires should they continue to expand is significant, with 9,300 structures threatened by the still growing Ranch fire and another 15,300 threatened by the River fire, although this is under more control currently.

The Red Flag Warning for increased fire danger continues across the state of California, as dry conditions, hot weather and high winds still fan the flames of these wildfires and make firefighting conditions very difficult.

The Mendocino Complex is already the fourth largest wildfire on record in California, while the Carr fire is the fifteenth largest in terms of acreage.

With it still relatively early in the wildfire season, insurance, reinsurance and ILS market interests are closely watching these expanding wildfires and expect to take on some losses as they flow through from primary insurers.

For now, at the damage levels seen to-date, primary insurers will take the bulk of these claims, with a small percentage perhaps set to be passed on to reinsurance companies.

But should these wildfires continue to expand and threaten towns or cities then very quickly this could become another wildfire year which has an impact on the insurance-linked securities (ILS) market, likely through quota share and collateralized reinsurance losses first.

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