Even though he official numbers haven’t been released for Colorado’s Black Forest Fire, according to the state’s insurance association, the fire may cost insurers over $100 million. Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountains Insurance Information Association (RMIIA) said, “Adjusters have been in the process of compiling losses for several weeks now, and with about 486 homes burned according to El Paso County, it certainly is the most destructive in state history in terms of structures burned in one fire. Initial estimates show the damage can be upwards of $100 million in losses.”
The fire started on June 11, burned over 14,000 acres, and caused approximately $85 million in damages to homes, according to El Paso County Assessor Mark Lowderman. This total was released after the assessor’s office conducted inspections of 2,400 parcels. Walker advised that the typical claim will include losses for partial and total property loss, additional living expenses (ALE), replacement of contents, and smoke damage. She explained that because Colorado is more accustomed to hailstorms resulting in damage to vehicles and rooftops, wildfires are “more personally devastating.”
Sadly, this isn’t the first time Colorado has been ravaged by wildfires. In late June 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire and the Hyde Park Fire both caused a combined $567.4 million in insured losses, which turned out to be approximately $117 million more than what was initially estimated last year. The Waldo Canyon Fire was the more damaging of the two, resulting in 6,648 homeowner and auto claims. The Hyde Park Fire resulted in 1,293 claims.
Walker said, “The Black Forest fire is somewhat different to the Waldo Canyon Fire, which is unique to Colorado; while most of our large-scale fires occur in Mountainous areas, this affected city blocks and left what looks like tornado damage, with some structures untouched and others burned to their foundation. The Black Forest Fire damage decades old single-family dwellings and many outbuildings containing horses and barns.”
In June, 806 animals were evacuated from areas threatened by the Black Forest Fire to large animal shelters. Of those, over 600 horses were evacuated: 200 were taken to the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 300 were taken to the Elbert County Fairgrounds, and 100 were taken to the Norris Penrose Center in Colorado Springs. A large number of other equids were placed in county and private locations located outside the fire zones. Additionally, there were a number of other shelters designated for small animals.
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