RMS calculates California wildfire costs

Sparks from flames

Global risk modelling and analytics firm RMS has estimated that the Camp and Woolsey wildfires in California, US, could cost between US$9 billion and $13 billion in total, including damage to vehicles, burn and smoke damage, business interruption, additional living expenses and contents loss.

RMS utilised its forthcoming North America Wildfire High Definition (HD) Model to simulate the ignition, fire spread, ember accumulations, and smoke dispersion of the fires, corroborating the findings with damage reports from CAL FIRE.

At the time of writing, the two fires have burned a combined total of 245,000 acres, destroyed more than 12,000 homes and businesses, and killed 80 people. The Camp Fire is the most destructive in California’s history, with the town of Paradise suffering worst in the blaze. RMS predicts that the total cost will be between $7.5-$10 billion for Camp and between $1.5-$3 billion for Woolsey.

“In the wake of consecutive record-breaking wildfire seasons, we are hopeful that more focus will be placed on fire mitigation, safe construction practices, and community resilience,” Mohsen Rahnama, Chief Risk Modeling Officer, RMS, said. “The forthcoming RMS HD Wildfire model, developed in partnership with leading insurers and fire experts, represents a step change in measuring wildfire risk, with a 50,000-year climate simulation, explicit ember and smoke simulations, and a vulnerability module calibrated on hundreds of millions of dollars of claims data.”