Between 2021-2022, wildfires accounted for over $11.2 billion in damage across the United States. Areas in the west, like California and Arizona, with long stretches of arid climate and little rain, are especially susceptible to wildfires. They can be devastating, multiplying, taking out homes and entire communities, and racking up billions of dollars in damage. In addition, urban sprawl and climate change increase the likelihood and frequency of wildfires across the country. Having the right homeowners insurance in place can be vital in helping consumers offset the cost of wildfire damage. Here, we examine the most recent statistics and data for U.S. wildfires, including how to proceed if your home or building is damaged by smoke or fire.
- 4.5 million U.S. homes are at high or extreme risk from wildfires, with over 2 million in California alone.
- There were 58,985 wildfires in 2021, which affected 7.1 million acres, compared to just 18,229 wildfires and 1,323,666 acres lost in 1983 when official record-keeping began.
- There was a 17% increase from 2019 to 2021 in U.S. wildfires and a 223% increase since 1983.
- Five of the top 20 largest California wildfires occurred in 2020, with four taking place in 2021.
- 2020 wildfires in the U.S. caused $16.5 billion in damages, making it the third-costliest year on record; 2017 being the highest at $24 billion and 2018 a close second at $22 billion. These figures do not account for indirect damages, which experts estimate cost around $150 billion for the record-setting 2018 wildfire season.
- 2020 wildfires cost California 4.2 million acres of land, 10,500 structures
- Wildfires, drought, and heatwaves accounted for $20.36 billion in economic losses and $8.69 billion in insurance losses in 2021.
- The average claim paid out by just one insurance provider State Farm for a wildfire as of March, 2022 was $224,000, which shows an 8% increase over the prior year. California makes up 95% of paid claims.
- California has made a name for itself with wildfires. In 2021, there were almost 2.6 million acres burned, 3,629 structures damaged or destroyed and three fatalities from wildfires. So far in 2022, 357,278 acres are estimated to have burned, with 101 structures damaged and 764 destroyed.
- In California, more than 4.6 million properties — about 41% have a chance of being involved in a wildfire this year. That figure is expected to grow in 30 years by 7.6% to include more than 5.5 million properties.
- When it comes to the sheer number of properties facing a fire risk this year, Southern California counties occupied three of the top five spots in the U.S.: Riverside County ranked first, with 684,400, or 77.2% of its properties; Los Angeles was third, with 514,500, or 24.5%; and San Bernardino County was fifth, with 471,700, or 57.4%.
Why Clean-Up of Soot and Smoke After Fire Damage is Important
Smoke damage can cause as much damage to your property as a fire, if not more. Soot and smoke contain carcinogens that can cause cancer and other health problems. Our certified professionals can clean your walls, floors, ceilings, and other parts of your building’s structure. However, the smell left behind after a fire may increase if the building is not deodorized immediately and adequately. Smoke odor can be so overwhelming that it can leave your house unlivable. Even though there may not seem to be much smoke damage, smoke tends to penetrate through hard and soft surfaces, settling into cavities around your property. It can hide behind walls, in plumbing networks, and wooden structures. Since smoke and soot particles can be toxic, breathing in the smoke odor can be dangerous for your health.
The average home insurance policy covers the structure of your property, as well as personal belongings and additional living expenses, should you be affected by a wildfire. Fire debris and residues from burning plastic, synthetic, and natural materials may be as easy to remove with a duster as household dust or as challenging to remove as old tobacco smoke. It all depends on the fuel and the available oxygen at the time of the fire. Our Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Services are customizable. Since no two properties are the same, no two fires are either. Therefore, our process will vary from one property to the next. Precision Environmental team of professionals will first assess all your damages before creating a scope of work.
Our Fire Damage Restoration process includes:
- Identifying the source to determine the type of fire that occurred.
- Evaluating the areas that are wet because of firefighting that may need treatment.
- Water Mitigation Service (if applicable).
- Evaluating sensitive materials that may be damaged because of smoke and soot particles.
- Removing Contents including the collection items you may need for the next coming of days, such as clothing, prescriptions, schoolbooks, business needs.
- Packing out remaining contents for cleaning and storage.
- Performing structural restoration, including removal of charred contents that may seal in smoke particles, such as insulation and burned wood.
- Assessing carpets and floor coverings, which may need to be removed.
- Safety Inspection of the framing of the house and subfloors.
- Removing smoke odors of the affected surfaces.
- Cleaning, eliminating odors, and deodorizing surfaces to pre-loss condition.
- Returning items to the original location, and making your house feel like home again.
Has your personal property been damaged by water, fire, mold, asbestos, lead, or smoke? Our team of Total Loss Inventory specialists will photograph all items; create a detailed list with as much information as possible, including physical description, size, brand, model, year of manufacture and location within your property. The List is then sent to the adjuster who has the items valued. The valuation process is used to determine reimbursement. This allows the adjuster to see your actual losses in a detailed manner so the adjuster can begin reimbursement for your personal property losses. For most people, if asked, it would be impossible to remember each, and every item located in your home. Precision Environmental will also take care of all the transportation and disposal of contaminated items or items posing a health hazard.
Need Fire Damage Restoration and Contents Inventory for Your Home or Business?
After a fire hits your home or business, it's best to act immediately. Precision Environmental is available 24/7 for all fire damage emergencies. We will respond quickly and work with you and your insurance company to restore your property to its pre-loss condition.