UP IN SMOKE

California Wildfire Costs to Top Last Year’s $12 Billion Record

The financial cost of this year’s California wildfires is expected to soar past last year’s record of more than $12 billion, NBC News reports. Insurance claims and cleanup costs are both expected to hit unprecedented amounts, with the debris cleanup alone predicted to cost state and federal authorities at least $3 billion. Most of that work will happen in Northern California, where the deadly Camp Fire destroyed the city of Paradise and killed at least 86 people, making it the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. for a century. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent $1.3 billion on debris removal in Northern California in 2017. Cleanup is expected to begin in January and take about a year to complete. Meanwhile, the insurance industry is expecting payouts exceeding last year’s record $11.8 billion. California Insurance Commissioner Davy Jones warned the increasing risk from wildfires in the state could force insurers to raise premiums or decline to sell policies entirely to homes in high-risk areas.