NU Online News Service, July 6, 12:00 p.m. EDT
The claims numbers are rolling in as insurers and homeowners begin the painful process of inspecting what remains of the devastation left from the Colorado wildfires that at their height forced 32,000 people to evacuate their homes and left one insurance executive describing his own brush with loss.
“At this point the number is fluid and expected to change,” says Brad Hilliard, State Farm spokesperson for the state’s largest homeowners insurer. “This has been the first day that adjusters were allowed into the impacted area, so we were finally able to accompany policyholders into their homes to get a look at individual claims.”
Click “next” to see the losses and numbers.
As of Thursday, State Farm put the total number of claims at 565, with 390 in Waldo Canyon, 150 in High Park, and 15 claims coming in from the Woodland Heights fire.
A spokesperson from Farmers Insurance Exchange says the company has received 909 claims as of 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday.
Farmers’ claims came from the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires, the latter of which burnt more than 18,247 acres of dry wood, coming close to Pike’s Peak and causing the bulk of the evacuations, including the first-ever clearing of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Firefighters expect the full containment of the Waldo Canyon fire to take place today.
The High Park Fire, which began on June 9, and consumed more than 87,000 acres, has now been completely contained, but some areas continue to smolder says the U.S. Forest Service.
(AP Photo/ P. Solomon Banda)
As of Thursday, USAA reported approximately 1,200 total property claims for the wildfires around Colorado Springs.
Jim Hannon, director of USAA’s Colorado Spring Regional Site Management, was among those whose lives were touched by the wildfire. Hannon was attending USAA’s 90th anniversary picnic when his wife called to inform him that their neighborhood was being evacuated due to wildfire threats.
“As I drove toward the mountains on the west side of town where we live, I sighed as I saw a huge plume of smoke rising from the ridge just west of our community,” wrote Hannon on the company’s blog. “That night we watched as huge flames nipped at the edges of our community and moved farther north along the ridge that borders Colorado Springs (…) It was horrifying. Over the next couple of days, the fire grew and more areas were evacuated.”
(Photo courtesy of USAA)
The Waldo Canyon blaze sparked up on June 28, closing businesses and service stations and causing bumper-to-bumper road traffic due to evacuation along Interstate 25.
(AP Photo/Gaylon Wampler)
Now, The National Interagency Fire Center says 46 individual blazes are ripping through 17 states, mostly in the west.
Montana is burning with four new southeastern wildfires, including the already halfway-contained Ash Creek fire that consumed 382 square miles of land, and Utah reported six major wildfires, including the Shingle fire that destroyed 8,200 acres and torched 850 structures including summer homes in the Dixie National Forest.
(AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
In Wyoming, the elements helped firefighters as they worked in the rain to help contain the 16-square mile Squirrel Creek Fire near Laramie. Fifteen homes were evacuated with the expectation of allowing residents to return the next day.
Federal authorities were also busy fighting fire from the skies. The Department of Defense has conducted 123 air drops and discharged more than 320,000 gallons of flame retardant on the constellation of blazes, reported the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday. Containment efforts are currently centered on the Squirrel Creek Fire in Wyoming, with a total of 18 air drops discharging approximately 50,600 gallons of retardant on the area, and the federal government is ramping up to battle the chain of fires until the early autumn snow.
(AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)