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California’s Oak fire threatens thousands of structures


California’s wildfire season continues to bring challenges for the state’s residents, with the Oak Fire in Mariposa County currently threatening thousands of properties, resulting in evacuations and an emergency declaration.

wildfire-image-firefightersThe Oak Fire is burning near Yosemite and the forests in the area are tinder dry, with significant fuel from dead trees and undergrowth, fuelling the blaze and alongside the weather resulting in very difficult fire fighting conditions.

So far, the Oak Fire in California has burned over 15,600 acres, growing substantially each day.

At the same time, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) report that the wildfire is zero percent contained, as fire fighting crews struggle to bring it under control in very hot conditions with low-humidity levels.

Over 6,000 people are currently under evacuation orders because of the Oak Fire, while a state of emergency was declared by California’s Governor this weekend.

A heatwave in the United States is exacerbating the situation, with 100 degree temperatures expected for the region.

Extreme fire behaviour has been cited with the Oak Fire, although firefighting crews made progress holding back the wildfire from communities on Sunday.

But the fire is expanding elsewhere and putting additional communities under threat.

At this time, the Cal Fire warnings suggest some 3,271 structures are under threat, with both residential properties and commercial likely to be affected by the blaze.

It’s really only the start of California’s peak months of wildfire season, but already the Oak Fire has given sight of what is expected to be another challenging year, as dry conditions persist.

Wildfire loss events in California have driven significant costs to insurance and reinsurance interests in recent years, with the industry nervous of another costly wildfire season.

Rates for property insurance in wildfire zones of the state have skyrocketed as a result, while reinsurance and retrocession capacity for wildfire exposures in California and other western states are now much higher than five years ago, plus more limited in availability as well.

Wildfires have been burning in mountainous areas so far, but with drought conditions possible and severe fire weather season just beginning, the threat of further losses from California wildfires remains very real in 2022.

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