Bush fires continue to burn across Australia and the mainstream media is now reporting over 500 homes destroyed in the recent outbreaks, while further warnings of catastrophic fire weather have been made as temperatures soar.
Hundreds of wildfires have been burning across eastern and southern Australia over the last fortnight, threatening major urban areas such as the Sydney suburbs.
Most of the damage incurred has been in more rural areas though, where bush fires have burned through hundreds of residential and commercial properties.
Parts of South Australia and Victoria have now raised their most severe warnings so far, as temperatures are set to soar and wind conditions will be conducive to spreading fires, leading to warnings of a potentially “catastrophic” situation.
The threat is also seen to be increasing in Tasmania as well, while fires are still burning towards the eastern states too.
In New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland over 500 houses have been destroyed by the blazes in recent weeks, according to reports, which will result in a rising bill for the insurance and perhaps reinsurance industry.
In South Australia temperatures neared 45C and winds reached 90km/h today, drawing the warnings of a significant wild fire risk in the region.
Australian utilities have now begun switching off electricity to homes in certain areas, to prevent any electrically ignited fires, as has been seen in California, with over 10,000 homes without power in the South region.
Officials have also warned that fires already burning in NSW and Queensland could intensify and spread in the current hot temperatures.
The Insurance Council, which declared a catastrophe for the New South Wales bush fires last week, said today that the bush fires in NSW and Queensland have so far resulted in 1,107 insurance claims being filed, with an estimated cost of around $115 million.
If the reports of over 500 homes being destroyed prove accurate and the ongoing severe fire weather continues, we can expect these totals to rise across these two states and the others now experiencing similar weather, raising the prospects of some claims leakage into the reinsurance market.