Insurers tally $1 billion in damage from Marshall Fire

Data Desk

Snow covers the burned remains of a shopping center after the Marshall Wildfire Saturday, Jan.1, 2022, in Louisville, Colo. An overnight dumping of snow and frigid temperatures compounded the misery of hundreds of Colorado residents who started off the new year trying to salvage what remains of their homes after a wind-whipped wildfire tore through the Denver suburbs. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

DENVER (KDVR) — Initial estimates from KDVR Data Desk have been verified by insurers.

The Marshall Fire was Colorado’s most destructive in history, though it burned only a scant fraction of the acreage big wildland fires burned in 2020. This blaze burned 6,000 acres and destroyed nearly 1,000 homes.

The total insured losses of the homes damaged and destroyed amount to $1 billion, according to a catastrophe analysis from Karen Clark & Company. This broadly matches an earlier analysis of Zillow home value data that estimated between $819 million and $1.6 billion in damages.

The report said environmental factors had turned the area into a potential tinderbox.

“Months of unusually warm and dry weather along the Colorado Front Range primed the environment
for the fast-spreading Marshall Fire,” reads the analysis. “Precipitation had been at record lows in the region since July, and Denver had just experienced its second warmest fall season on record. The unseasonably hot and dry weather led to desiccated vegetation throughout the state, which can easily ignite and spread fire.”

Colorado has seen seven major loss-producing fires in the last decade. The Marshall Fire tops them all, doubling the insured losses from the East Troublesome Fire in 2020, which damaged 500 structures with a total insured value of $500 million.

This puts the Marshall Fire near the top of the list of national “large-loss fires,” or fires that damage more than $10 million of property.

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