The Ponderosa Fire in Northern California has caused millions of dollars in property damage and will result in innumerable insurance claims. Dozens of structures have been destroyed and hundreds of homes are threatened in the area of the state about 150 miles North of Sacramento. Governor Jerry Brown has sent National Guard troops to assist in the effort and federal emergency assistance has also been allocated. Though this fire is ravaging Northern California, the entire state is at risk of a similar catastrophe.
Warnings are commonplace about fire danger in Los Angeles and all of Southern California. The summer of 2012 has been extremely hot and dry so the warnings are particularly serious. When summer storms emerge, lighting can quickly turn the dry vegetation into kindling. Lightning is blamed for the start of the Ponderosa fire. Such an unavoidable natural cause is also possible in the Southland.
Heat records have been set throughout Southern California this summer. Fortunately, Southern California has only seen a small number of wildfires this year: San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, and Ventura have all seen significant fires but nothing like the Ponderosa. Fires of the magnitude that have erupted in the past, namely 2007, have also been absent so far. In October of2007, the dry and hot summer contributed to massive fires erupting from Santa Barbara, to Malibu and San Diego as well as deep into the inland reaches of the state. Countless California residents lost their homes, hundreds of millions of dollars were lost, at least nine people were killed and nearly a hundred suffered serious smoke inhalation and burn injuries.
Many California residents are still awaiting insurance settlements afterthe state’s wildfires. Some still have suits pending against individuals who may have been responsible for starting a fire and other residents may still be awaiting compensation from their insurance companies. Insurance companies may try to behelpful after these massive cataclysms, but when thousands of people are filing claims, damages are huge, and evidence is spread across countless acres, the wildfire insurance claims process can be daunting.