Mendocino Complex wildfire now the largest in California history

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The 2018 California wildfire season continues to astonish as wildfire acres burned in the so-called Mendocino Complex fires accelerated rapidly over the last 48 hours, making the burn into the largest single wildfire in California state records.

Carr wildfire damage image via BBC and APAt the same time the Carr wildfire has come under increasing control and damage to structures has slowed from that burn.

The Mendocino Complex wildfire, which is made up of the Ranch fire and River fire, has now expanded to cover a total of 283,800 acres, making it the largest wildfire since 1932 (when Cal Fire considers that records became reliable).

That is larger than last year’s Thomas wildfire, which came in December and so tipped numerous aggregate reinsurance and ILS contracts into loss.

The Mendocino fires consist of 235,000 acres with the Ranch fire and another 48,800 with the River fire.

143 structures have now been destroyed by the Mendocino Complex wildfires, 75 of which are residential properties.

With the fire expanding rapidly and still 11,300 structures under threat the impacts to the insurance, reinsurance and perhaps ILS market are likely to increase.

The Ranch fire is only 21% contained so far, while the River fire is 58% contained, suggesting further expansion in the hot and dry conditions that California is experiencing is likely.

Meanwhile, the Carr wildfire has come under greater control in the last 24 hours, now being 47% contained and having burned over 164,400 acres so far.

1,604 structures have been destroyed so far, with another 1,223 still under threat. Of the structures destroyed, 1,080 are residential properties and 24 commercial. Another 190 homes and 26 commercial properties have been damaged as well.

With the Carr fire coming under greater control the fire authorities have a chance of stemming that blaze more quickly now, despite continued dry and hot weather conditions.

Hence, all eyes will be on the Mendocino Complex wildfires for the next few days, as with 11,300 structures still threatened by the still growing fires the chances of further impact to insurance and reinsurance interests remains.

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

The Carr wildfire remains the biggest threat to reinsurance interests currently, with industry losses estimated at above $1 billion by broker Aon, while Moody’s put the impact to the industry at up to $1.5 billion.

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