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Okanagan, Shuswap wildfires caused $720M in damage, says report

The Okanagan and Shuswap wildfires that burned this summer caused an estimated $720 million in damage, according to new data from Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc.

New data released today shows that the McDougall Creek and Bush Creek East wildfires are now the most costly insured event in BC’s history and the tenth costliest insured event in Canadian history.

According to the data, the combined insured losses from this year’s wildfire season in the Southern Interior nearly quadrupled the damage caused by the Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire in Kelowna in 2003.

That fire resulted in $200 million in insured damage.

The most expensive natural disaster for insurance payouts in Canadian history was the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire that caused an estimated $4.3 billion in damage.

<who> Photo Credit: Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. 

"This year's wildfire season has broken all records in terms of the amount of land burned and damage caused to homes and businesses in BC," said Aaron Sutherland, vice-president, Pacific and Western, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

"Our hearts go out to every individual and family who has been impacted by these wildfires, and to the firefighters who lost their lives helping to protect our communities.”

Sutherland says this year’s wildfire season is another “tragic reminder” of the risk British Columbians face due to climate change and the frequency of natural disasters.

The Grouse Complex, which was made of the McDougall Creek, Clark Creek and Walroy Lake wildfires, grew rapidly on Aug. 17 and prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents.

An estimated 189 structures were damaged in West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and along Westside Road, including the total loss of the Lake Okanagan Resort.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia/Corvin Vaski </who> A view of homes damaged in Traders Cove in mid-September.

The fire also damaged nearly 30 kilometres of power lines, 346 hydro poles and 66 pieces of electric infrastructure.

Four structures were also damaged in Kelowna and three in Lake Country.

The fire was considered as held on Sept. 20, after growing to 13,970 hectares.

Meanwhile, in the North Shuswap, approximately 270 properties were damaged by the Bush Creek East wildfire and around 3,5000 people were evacuated.

The fire burned in the mountains above the Little Shuswap Lake for weeks before taking a volatile 20-km run through the region and into populated areas in mid-August.

The fire, which grew to over 41,000 hectares, damaged homes and public infrastructure including more than 430 power poles and 27 km of power lines.



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