October 10th, 2017

California Wildfires – October 8-10, 2017

Posted at 5:19 PM ET

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Wildfire activity has recently rendered severe impacts to areas of California, including the Napa Valley area as well as areas east of the Los Angeles Metro area. The event is still developing, but media reports indicate more than a thousand structures burned with thousands more still under threat. At least 13 fatalities have been reported. Rates of extreme fire spread have been enabled by especially dry conditions together with offshore gusty winds.

Northern California

For Northern California, reports from Cal Fire and media indicate at least 15 wildfires affecting homes and businesses across at least 73,000 acres. Affected areas include Napa, Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma Counties. At least 13 fatalities have been reported so far, with seven in Sonoma County. At least 150 have been reported missing. Estimates indicate that at least 25,000 people have been forced to evacuate since Sunday. Government officials indicate nearly 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed with more than 50 structures burned in Napa County alone. A state of emergency has been declared for affected counties including Napa and Sonoma Counties.

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Source: Wildfire hot spots data retrieved from NASA MODIS over the past two days.

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from GC AdvantagePoint®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. GC AdvantagePoint users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or cat modeling analyst for further information.

In Napa County, Cal Fire reports that the Atlas fire started Sunday evening and has since burned at least 25,000 acres and 125 structures. At least 5,000 structures remain under threat and evacuations are in place.

Meanwhile the Tubbs fire has burned at least 27,000 acres since it started Sunday night. At least 550 residential structures and 21 commercial structures have been destroyed. These numbers will change as formal damage assessment efforts progress and the event continues to evolve. Properties lost include the local K-mart, the Hilton Sonoma Hotel and the new city fire station. Structures remain under threat, and evacuations are also in place. At least 200 were evacuated from local hospitals in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County. Media reports indicate that all public schools in Santa Rosa and Calistoga were closed on Monday due to widespread power outages.

The status of vineyards in affected areas is unclear. Government sources stated that a number of Napa Valley wineries may have burned. Also, unpicked grapes may have been tainted by exposure to heavy smoke, according to experts. Reports also indicate that communications and cellular service have been disrupted.

The fires were able to spread under strong north to northeasterly winds and extremely dry conditions. The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting an onshore flow today with an increase in moisture and cooler temperatures, which should briefly help containment efforts. However, the passage of a cold front late Tuesday is expected to be followed by a return to dry conditions with offshore flow, and occasionally strong winds during the late-day periods; this is of great concern for the threat of further fire spread.

Southern California

Further south near the Los Angeles Metro area, the Canyon 2 fire located near Anaheim hills has burned at least 7,500 acres. Numerous structures are under threat and evacuations are in place. Containment efforts are underway but are impeded by ongoing dry conditions and gusty northeast winds. The NWS maintains red flag warnings for areas under threat of extreme fire spread. An onshore flow is expected by the NWS to develop for Wednesday and Thursday; this should bring cooler conditions with some moisture increase which should support containment efforts.

Sources: Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, National Weather Service, Reuters, AP, The Weather Channel

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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.


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