Even in a year that is already infamous for US catastrophes, the Thomas Fire of December in the dry windswept hills north of Los Angeles was a staggering event. Ignited near Thomas Aquinas College southeast of Ojai on Route 150 (thus, the name!), it burned hard and it moved quickly with 50+ mph winds. After the wet spring (floods!), there was ample new fuel for fires, and the dry and breezy conditions drove risk levels to unprecedented heights. Sure enough, an unprecedented fire happened.
The wildfires in California this month have been historically devastating, on their way to becoming the most expensive and tragic wildfires in the country’s history. These wildfires seem to be unusual, or even unlike anything we have seen before. Sadly, there is a direct comparison – a very recent comparison, in fact.
As The Risks of Hazard has mentioned before (and even before that), it is incredible how little attention wildfire receives from underwriters and carriers. The huge fires in Tennessee last autumn didn’t change that, and the January fires in Florida didn’t either.
The Weather Network is broadcasting their 2017 summer forecast for the United States. Yep, the whole country for the next 3 months…because local forecasts a week in advance are so great, this must be really good stuff! Sarcasm aside… at least they are not being too precise, but rather giving generalized information relative to “normal”.
Over the past few years, there hasn’t really been a traditional wildfire season in the U.S. and Canada. The year’s worst fire was in northern Alberta…in May. Meanwhile, last year’s most tragic U.S. fires were burning over Thanksgiving in Tennessee. This year, the tragedy started in February with Texas and Oklahoma experiencing horrible and fatal wildfire in February. There was almost no quiet season (also known as “winter”) for wildfire.