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Fort McMurray wildfire most expensive disaster in Canadian history with $3.58bn in damages

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Fort McMurray wildfire most expensive disaster in Canadian history with $3.58bn in damages

What appears to be a patio set sits covered in tackifier in the destroyed area of Beacon Hill on June 8, 2016 // Chris Vandenbreekel - Harvard Broadcasting

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has released their initial projection as to the insurable cost of damages caused by the Fort McMurray wildfire, and it sets a new record.

IBC says their initial projection is at $3.58 billion, making it the most expensive disaster in Canadian history. Prior to the wildfire, the most expensive disaster was the High River flood in 2013 which cost $1.7 billion.

The organization says they’ve tallied home losses at 1,815 single family houses, and an additional 600 multi-residential units such as apartments and condo buildings.

“The numbers fall well short of measuring the real tragedy of this wildfire,” said IBC Vice President of Western and Pacific Regions Bill Adams. “One that has taken an immense toll on thousands of individuals and families.”

Since nearly all insurance policies cover fire damage, he¬†added that the astronomical costs would be “largely borne” by the insurance industry.

Adams also emphasized the need for more preventative measures in communities surrounded by boreal forest. He touted the effectiveness of the “Fire Smart” program, which the RMWB is now implementing in earnest. Measures include creating buffer zones between tree lines and structures, and replacing cedar shingles with more fire-resistant roofing materials.

“It too often takes events like this for people to recognize that there are pragmatic things that can be done,” he said. “In retrospect this was an event that was likely, if not predictable, certainly expected when you build so close to a boreal forest.”

Stats collected by the IBC show that over 27,000 personal property claims have been filed, with an average value of $81,000. Over 5,000 businesses have also filed claims, averaging $250,000 each.

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