FORESTHILL — California temporarily banned insurance companies Thursday from dropping customers into areas hit by recent wildfires, a day after evacuation orders were lifted for residents near a two-week fire that was the largest in the state this year.
Several days of sporadic rain helped firefighters contain 60% of a mosquito fire in the foothills of the Sierra about 110 miles (177 km) northeast of San Francisco. At least 78 homes and other structures have been destroyed since the flames broke out and burned down forests in Placer and Eldorado counties on September 6.
Sheriff officials in both counties announced Wednesday they were lifting the latest of the evacuation orders that kept about 11,000 people from entering their homes at the height of the fire.
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Thursday enforced a law aimed at protecting homeowners in the wildfire-hit state who say they are being squeezed out of the commercial insurance market.
Lara has ordered insurance companies to keep home insurance for one year for Californians living near one of several major wildfires that have swept the state in recent weeks.
The Insurance Department estimates that the moratorium will affect policies covering about 236,000 people in parts of Placer, Eldorado and Riverside counties.
“Wildfires are devastating even if you haven’t lost your home, so it’s crucial to give people a breather after a natural disaster. Now is not the time to seek insurance,” Lara said in a statement.
The law was put into effect in 2019 when more than 15 major wildfires burned homes across the state.
Scientists say climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. Over the past five years, California has experienced the largest and most destructive wildfires in its history.
Full containment of the 120-square-mile (310-square-kilometre) mosquito fire is expected around October 15th.
Last week, the flames surpassed the size of the previous largest fire in 2022, the McKinney fire, although only a fraction of last year’s wildfires have been seen this season so far.
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