California’s wildfires near containment even as structure loss grows

The number of structures destroyed by the 245,000-acre Northern California wildfires climbed to 8,400 along with authorities warned Monday the total could continue to go up as crews assess damage in scorched areas.

“The numbers are going to continue to boost,” said Robert Foxworthy, a spokesman for Cal Fire. “The reason the numbers are increasing can be because our damage assessment teams are getting into the areas along with finally getting an accurate count.”

Cal Fire said Friday there were 7,700 structures destroyed, so Monday’s increase to 8,400 represented a significant jump along with includes homes as well as different structures. There remain 5 large fires burning within the Northern Bay region of the state, although many were at least 0 percent contained as of Monday morning.

The wildfires within the state’s wine country started off Oct. 8 along with have claimed at least 42 fatalities, with 23 of those through Sonoma County. There were 21 people still missing in Sonoma County as of Monday morning, said Misti Harris, a spokesperson for the county sheriff’s office.

The investigation into the cause of the fires can be still ongoing, along with Foxworthy said of which could still “be weeks” before the probe can be complete along with details are released.

Last week, Moody’s estimated the insured losses for property along with casualty insurers through the Northern California blazes “will be among the costliest wildfires on record for U.S.” P&C insurers were already hit by high third-quarter catastrophe losses through Hurricanes Harvey, Irma along with Maria along with the Mexico earthquakes.

The credit ratings firm estimates the losses will total “$4.6 billion or higher,” noting of which its estimate was based on Cal Fire’s earlier 5,700 structures figure.

Moody’s also issued a separate report Monday saying the Northern California wildfire disaster can be “unlikely to have a lasting material credit impact on affected municipal issuers.” Preliminary insurance loss claims so far within the fires are about $1 billion, the state revealed last week.

Meantime, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s spokesperson said Jesus Fabian Gonzales, who was arrested for starting a fire Oct. 15, can be still in custody. yet she emphasized he’s “not a suspect in these wine country fires. His arson case can be a modest fire out of the Sonoma County.”

About 5,000 firefighters remain on the California blazes, which include not only the wine country region fires yet incidents in Santa Cruz County along with parts of Southern California.

At an afternoon press conference Monday, state along with federal officials responded to concerns about the toxic health hazards created by the wildfires.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said crews will start physically removing toxic waste through burned homes along with different sites This kind of week in Sonoma County. The toxic waste clean-up process can be likely to run into 2018 along with will be supervised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, officials said.

The household hazardous debris targeted for removal includes everything through Freon, chemicals along with batteries to electronic waste along with asbestos fibers, which could become airborne. Soils also will be tested after the removal of debris, along with toxic soil removed if needed, officials said.

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