The estimated damage from wildfires in California in 2017 has topped $10 billion, not including December’s fires blazing in Southern California, CNN reports.
The $10 billion cost of wildfires in California is already a record in the United States, and it will grow after damages are tallied for fires in December. Insurance claims are expected to pour in and start being tallied in January.
One of the fires that has not been accounted for happens to be the largest fire in California state history. The Thomas Fire has burned about 281,620 acres, surpassing the previous record holder by more than 8,000 acres, USA Today reports.
The Thomas Fire has consumed more than 1,000 structures, including everything from telephone poles to multi-million dollar homes, and damaged 280 others. The fire, about 88 percent contained, is expected to burn through New Year’s and into January.
Wildfires in 2017 have been particularly destructive due to a drought California has struggled through for the past five years. Fuel from dried grass and trees has built up across the state waiting for a small spark to ignite and spread, Fox News reports.
The Thomas Fire has been propelled by severe Santa Ana winds that have thwarted firefighters’ attempts to control the blaze since it started on Dec. 4.
“There’s a long road ahead of us. The fires we’ve dealt with recently — like the Thomas Fire — are all indicators of what we’re having to deal with in California for the next few years,” Cal Fire information officer told Fox News. “Rains are not a cure all with one winter — it will take several years of winters to get moisture back into plants and reservoirs.”
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