Claims News Service, Nov. 19, 9:49 a.m. EST — In a year that has seen near-record numbers of tornadoes, the return of land-falling hurricanes, and hail storms that have topped $200 million in losses, 2008 is adding one more natural disaster to its checklist: Wildfires.

Although several wildfires exploded in Southern California in October, recent weekend wildfires fanned by hurricane-force Santa Ana winds are much more intense and are forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes in parts of Southern California. Early estimates from Guy Carpenter indicate that more than 950 homes, ranging from multi-million-dollar mansions to more modest mobile homes, have been destroyed. Thousands more remain under threat from the fires that stretch from Santa Barbara to Southeast Los Angeles. More than 42,000 acres of land has been destroyed, and property losses could total more than $500 million.

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