AccuWeather predicts 2017 California wildfire season cost to rise to $180 billion

December 08, 2017, 9:15:23 AM EST

Amid the costliest and most destructive wildfire year in California history, several wind-driven wildfires are raging in populated areas of Southern California.

AccuWeather predicts that the economic toll of the 2017 wildfire season in California will rise to $180 billion.

“Even before this spate of December fires, 2017 has already been recorded as the costliest and most destructive wildfire year in California history,” said Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather.

Ventura, CA firefighter battles blaze 12/7

A firefighter battles a wildfire at Faria State Beach in Ventura, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The wind-swept blazes have forced tens of thousands of evacuations and destroyed dozens of homes. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“According to a Fortune magazine article in 2015 that calculated the true total cost of wildfires at 40 times the insured cost, we would have already seen an economic toll in excess of $360 billion from the previous wildfires earlier this year in Northern and Southern California. The Fortune method for the total economic impact of 2017 wildfires would exceed $500 billion after the costs of this recent outbreak of December fires in Southern California have been totaled. Since the total GDP of California is $2.5 trillion this would represent 20 percent of the entire GDP for the entire year, which casts far too much doubt on the method used in the Fortune article," Myers said.

"AccuWeather instead estimates the total cost of the California wildfires at about $180 billion after these current fires all burn out in approximately two weeks," Myers said. "These losses are attributable in part to homes damaged or lost, many of them in expensive neighborhoods; business and school closures; clogged commuter routes; respiratory illness from the bad air; costs to fight the fires and rehabilitation costs, lost sales and business activity and workdays lost. These major losses will be a blow to the insurance and reinsurance industry nationwide, which is still reeling from the economic toll of the hurricanes. Insurers will likely have no choice but to make up for the loss with higher premiums for all Americans over the next few years. Homeowners and renters have benefited from lower insurance costs over the past few years because of the lack of hurricanes and catastrophic events such as these fires. Furthermore, the impact of the 2017 fires will put a further strain on California’s budget.”

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