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California’s Oak & McKinney fires destroy nearly 300 structures


Wildfire season in California has continued to escalate with more structures burned and reports of extreme fire behaviour in high temperatures, low humidity and drought conditions, with almost 300 structures now burned by the two largest blazes.

Wildfire industry lossesThe Oak Fire in Mariposa County, California, that we reported on last week, has come increasingly under the control of fire fighters, now standing at almost 20,000 acres in size but 67% contained.

However, damage to properties has continued with the Oak Fire and now almost 200 structures have been reported destroyed, of which over 100 are residential homes, and another 10 damaged.

Weather conditions have turned and lower humidity with some rain are expected to help fire crews hold the line on the Oak Fire at this time.

The McKinney Fire, burning in Siskiyou County, has been expanding fast and burning out of control, with extreme fire behaviour cited by fire crews and a rapid expansion of the blaze seen.

The McKinney wildfire grew rapidly over the weekend to 52,500 acres and is currently zero percent controlled by fire fighters, according to the latest report from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

A red flag warning for thunderstorms, winds and low humidity in the region the McKinney Fire is burning in are expected to make conditions challenging for fire fighters, with further expansion of the fire possible.

The McKinney Fire is already the largest in California’s 2022 wildfire season, in terms of acres burned and its expansion has been particularly fast in the two days it has burned so far.

Another fire in the same forested region, the China 2 Fire, is also burning out of control currently.

Fire authorities haven’t reported the number of structures destroyed by both blazes yet, but the local Sheriff’s office for Siskiyou County has said they number more than one hundred currently.

More thunderstorm activity is seen as a key threat that could cause additional fires in the region over the next few days.

So far, California’s wildfire season has not caused losses that would trouble insurance and reinsurance markets, with damage in the hundreds of structures.

Previous seasons have seen wildfires burning many thousands of properties, driving significant losses into the tens of billions of dollars to insurance and reinsurance carriers.

But 2022 wildfire activity already exhibits the kind of behaviour that concerns re/insurers, with extreme fires burning out of control and months of the season still to run.

With California’s drought persisting in many areas, any rainfall may not be sufficient to dampen fire potential it seems.

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