As California Burns, Residents Face Continued Heatwaves and Skyrocketing Insurance Rates

Meanwhile, State Farm wants to increase rates for the wildfire-prone state 

Not a Happy Holiday 

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What was supposed to be a celebratory July 4th for the US has turned into a battle with blazes, as a prolonged heatwave has brought not only excessive and record-high temperatures but also multiple wildfires. 

And after a new wildfire erupted in northern California before noon on Tuesday, thousands were forced to flee their homes.

Burning up the Land 

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Named “The Thompson Fire’, the latest blaze broke out about 70 miles north of the California capital, Sacramento, as well as in and around Oroville in Butte County. 

Over 3,500 acres (1,416 hectares) have already been consumed. 

An Official Emergency 

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Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the area, paving the way for additional resources, which might also include calling on the California National Guard for assistance. 

What About the Costs? 

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Regarding the costs of firefighting, Newsom stated that California had secured a fire management assistance grant (FMAG) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).

This follows after Newsom had activated the state operations center to direct wildfire response and extreme heat across California earlier in the week. 

The Sweltering State 

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Wildfires are nothing new to Californians. The Thompson Fire is burning a mere 20 miles south of Pasadena, where 85 people died and thousands lost their homes to the state’s deadliest wildfire in 2018.

Helpers Need Help 

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With more than two dozen active wildfires of various sizes tearing across California, the Thompson Fire stands out as the largest, according to Cal Fire.

Over 1,400 firefighters from across the state are actively battling to try and control the flames under excessive heat. 

Occupational Hazard 

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On Wednesday afternoon, the Thompson Fire was at 0% containment. Officials have reported eight injuries, at least half of whom were firefighters.

Scary Circumstances 

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A public information officer with Cal Fire, Ed Fletcher, said although the agency is extremely meticulous about ensuring firefighters are provided with relief and rest, the extreme conditions are making their work much harder. 

Be Cautious 

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Fletcher has asked the public to be extra careful about limiting new fire starts, which can quickly spread crews thin, particularly since the heatwaves are boosting already excessive temperatures. He says: “The combination of events has presented a huge challenge for firefighters”. 

A Dangerous Job 

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“It’s a tough thing to do,” he said. Trying to illustrate the harsh conditions for the firefighters, he continued: “You are asking people to hike up a mountain when it’s 108F outside”.

Save the Trees 

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Meanwhile on Wednesday, in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park officials closed Covington Flats where most of the park’s important Joshua trees are growing. This is due to the extreme fire risk associated with the abundance of dried grass in the area. 

No Fireworks!

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California was already on high alert for wildfires, not only due to high temperatures and gusty winds but also because of Fourth of July celebrations which usually involve fireworks. 

Over 18,500 fires are ignited across the US every year due to Independence Day celebrations, whether because of fireworks gone wrong or badly tended campfires.  

Insurance Isn’t cheap 

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Meanwhile, State Farm, the Illinois-based insurer that is the largest in California, has applied for huge rate increases in California. 

State Farm, which insures nearly one in five homes in the state, requested a 30% rate boost for its homeowners line, a 52% rate hike for renters, and a 36% increase for condo coverage. 

High Heat and High Rates 

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This comes only a year after the carrier received rate approvals of 7% and 20%. 

This is figurative fuel on the fire for California residents, as the state has already seen several carriers either pull back or raise their rates during the last year due to bigger and more frequent wildfire outbreaks. 

Burning Up 

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On Monday, a Cal Fire official claimed that this year has already seen a 1600% upsurge in the number of acres burned compared to the same timeframe for last year. He continued “if the future is any indication of what has occurred already this year, it’s going to be a challenging season for firefighters across the state”.  

Tough Time for Property Owners 

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State Farm’s requested rate hikes would impact an estimated 1.2 million homeowners. Should the increases be approved, consumer advocates say it would be “a financial blow to many renters and home and condo owners” in California.  

Think Ahead 

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Now, authorities have warned of full legal consequences for anybody using illegal fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday. 

Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea. has been quoted as saying: “Don’t be an idiot, cause a fire and create more problems for us,” before adding: “No one in the community is going to want that. And we certainly don’t want this”. 

A Dangerous Dilemma 

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According to the National Weather Service, extreme heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the US, taking the lives of hundreds of people every year. 

Not Looking Better 

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Unfortunately, things are expected to get worse. Intense temperatures have already been forecast for much of California, excluding its coastal areas, western Nevada, and southwestern Arizona. 

Heat readings from 100 to 110 degrees are expected, which is about 10 to 20 degrees higher than normal. 

Record-High Heat 

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Various cities have already set or tied daily record-high temperature records – both Fresno and Livermore hit 110 degrees on Wednesday. 

It’s expected that excessive heat will spread to the Northwest and parts of Arizona, including Phoenix, by the weekend, where residents have been warned to brace for triple-digit temperatures. 

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The post As California Burns, Residents Face More Heatwaves and Skyrocketing Insurance Rates first appeared on EcoHugo.

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