Insurance Losses from Butte, Valley Fires Tops $1 Billion

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CALAVERAS COUNTY --

At least $1 billion -- that's the cost of unthinkable destruction from last summers Butte and Valley fires in insured losses.

For months now, work crews have been clearing debris, dead trees and demolishing burned out homes left behind by the destructive Butte Fire.

Greg Pierce with Sutton Trucking says he has been working in the area for about two months. He said that of about 800 homes his company was hired to clean up, about 300 of them are done.

But all this work isn't free. Early estimates from the state's insurance department show insurance losses from both the Butte and Valley fires combined will top $1 billion.

The fires broke out in September, killed six people and destroyed more than 2,500 structures.

So far, insurers have paid out more than $500 million from about 5,600 claims from both residential and commercial structures leveled by the wildfires.

Once the rest of the insurance claims have been processed, they estimate another $500 million will be paid out.

"We are cleaning up debris off the burnt houses and such. The ones that burnt down, just going to go clean up their home, so we are going to go ahead and go in there load up the trucks we got about 200 trucks running out here, I think, " Pierce said.

The causes of both the Butte and Valley fires remain under investigation.