Camp Fire Recovery Update for Paradise: February 2020

By Saumi Shokraee Natural Hazard, Real Estate

The November 2018 Camp Fire in California was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. The fire, which originated in the town of Paradise in Butte County, cost $16.5 billion in damages (with only $4 billion insured)[1] and destroyed 18,804 structures, making it the single most-expensive natural disaster for insurers worldwide that year.[2] The fire played a large role in setting up 2018 to be the fourth-costliest year for insurance companies since 1980.

Paradise Single Family Residence

After an investigation conducted by Cal Fire, a faulty power line, managed by the local utility Pacific Gas and Electric, was found to be responsible for starting the fire. In January 2019, the company filed for bankruptcy, expecting to pay $30 billion in liabilities to compensate for damages caused by the fire.[3]

Today, one year and four months after the fire, Paradise is slowly recovering. Available data indicates applications for permits have gradually increased since the disaster. For single-family residences (SFR), permit applications hit a high of 107 in December 2019. To date, there have been 385 SFR permits issued in Paradise since the Camp Fire.

Paradise Homes Rebuilt

The current average time for permit approval in Paradise is 47 days. However, the wait time will likely increase slightly as the city planning department deals with higher demand due to a surge in permit application submissions.

July 2019 marked the first completed home rebuild. Since then, monthly rebuild totals have gradually increased. February 2020 home rebuilds totaled 15, an all-time monthly high since the disaster. By the beginning of March, there were a total of 68 home rebuilds completed in Paradise.[4]

Paradise is proving to be resilient in the aftermath of disaster. Despite catastrophic losses, the small town continues to rebuild.

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