September 15th, 2015

Valley and Butte Wildfires – United States

Posted at 2:22 PM ET

valley-wildfire-9-15-smIn Central and Northern California, two wildfires have consumed over 133,000 acres and destroyed at least 750 homes and ten businesses in a matter of days. The fires have altogether displaced at least 23,000, according to media sources, and a state of emergency has been declared for affected areas by Governor Jerry Brown. Nearly 6,400 firefighters have been mobilized to combat the two fires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

In Lake, Napa and Sonoma Counties, the Valley fire has burned at least 67,000 acres since September 12 under hot, dry and windy conditions. At least 585 homes have been destroyed and at least 9,000 others are under threat, according to Calfire. Evacuation orders are in place for widespread areas. Media sources indicate that the hamlet of Middletown has been almost completely destroyed. At least four firefighters have been injured and at least one civilian fatality has been reported. Containment efforts have been very difficult over recent days with hot, dry and windy conditions. Nevertheless, firefighters are focusing on perimeter control, public defense and public safety. The Valley fire is under 15 percent containment, according to Calfire.

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SOURCE: Wildfire hot spots data retrieved from NASA MODIS. Fire perimeter from USGS GEOMAC.

butte-wildfire-9-15-lg

SOURCE: Wildfire hot spots data retrieved from NASA MODIS. Fire perimeter from USGS GEOMAC.

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or GC Analytics® representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

Further south and east in Amador and Calaveras Counties, the Butte fire has burned over 71,660 acres since September 9. At least 166 homes and 116 outbuildings have been destroyed with at least 6,400 structures threatened, according to Calfire. Evacuation orders remain in place for widespread areas under threat. Fire suppression efforts have been difficult due to steep terrain and hot, dry and windy conditions. Nevertheless, firefighters have made some headway and this fire is now under 37 percent contained, according to Calfire.

As an early fall system enters the area, the National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting breezy conditions, which would enable fire spread. However, scattered showers, cooler temperatures and increasing moisture are expected with this system. This should offset fire spread and support containment efforts. Rainfall amounts should be more substantial along and north of the I-80 corridor, according to the NWS forecast.

Abnormally hot and dry conditions in the West have enabled ongoing severe wildfire activity this year. Wildfire activity to date has consumed at least 8.8 million acres, compared to the 10-year average to September 14 of six million acres, and the nearly 8.8 million in 2006, according to the NIFC.

Sources: Calfire, U.S. National Weather Service, National Interagency Fire Center, Agence France Presse, Associated Press.

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Guy Carpenter publishes CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Guy Carpenter compiles RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email RISK.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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