The Dixie wildfire that is burning in California has now burned almost half a million acres and continues to put significant property value at-risk, with now 1,027 structures reported as having been destroyed by the fire.
The Dixie Fire ignited above the Cresta Dam in the Feather River Canyon on July 13th and has been spreading ever since.
It subsequently merged with the Fly Fire north of Quincy and is burning across Plumas and Butte counties, with evacuations seen in Butte, Plumas, Tehama and Lassen, with thousands of people having been moved out of harms way.
The Dixie wildfire has burned acres of forest lands and destroyed a number of small California mountain towns, but now the financial toll is beginning to rise, making it a concern for insurance and reinsurance carriers.
Structures destroyed, across residential, commercial and agricultural buildings now stand at 1,027, with 69 more damaged.
But with another 16,000 plus structures threatened by the blaze and it only being 27% contained, the threat remains severe.
Wildfires have already burned almost one million acres across California this year, with the Dixie fire responsible for the lions share. This is reportedly a 233% increase in acres burned over the same period last year.
So far, the 2021 California wildfire season is estimated to have destroyed around 1,600 structures across all the wildfires burning to-date, which is high for the time of year with so much of the accepted season left to run.
Weather has helped again, with largely tinder dry conditions, spells of high temperatures and strong winds.
Over the coming days another period of higher temperatures is expected, although wind conditions are not forecast to be as bad as in previous red flag fire weather events this year.
Across the entire United States, almost 3.7 million acres are estimated to have been burned by wildfires this year, with the west seeing significant fire activity for the time of year.
2020’s wildfire season was estimated to have caused over $12 billion of insurance and reinsurance market losses, becoming the third most costly wildfire season on-record for the industry after 2017’s estimated $15 billion to $17 billion and 2018’s estimated $18 billion to $20 billion estimates.
While economic losses of the current fire season in North America will be well into the billions, it’s not yet clear how high insurance and reinsurance market losses have risen, but it could also be over $1 billion at this stage, if factoring in all the California activity, as well as wildfires further north on the west coast and into Canada.
The Dixie Fire is now the second largest California wildfire on record after 2020’s August Complex.
It is also about the fifteenth most destructive, in terms of property destroyed.
While the Dixie wildfire has a long way to go to near some of the really destructive wildfires of recent years, it is already a fire of note for insurance an reinsurance interests, particularly with months of the accepted fire season in California still left to run.