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Insurance claims from NorCal fires top $1 billion

Lesley McClurg/KQED
A destroyed home in the Fountaingrove neighborhood in Santa Rosa.

Total damage estimates for the most destructive week of fires in California history are now topping a billion dollars. The state released preliminary numbers Thursday based on insurance claims. 

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says the data surrounding the outbreak of fires in California this month is "chilling." He said more than 5,400 homes were destroyed and nearly 4,200 damaged.

In addition, there were more than 3,000 vehicles destroyed, hundreds of commercial properties, and roughly 150 pieces of farm or agricultural equipment.

"So this is just the start as the insurers begin to collect this information. This represents information from the eight largest insurers that are writing insurance in the areas of these fires," Jones said. 

The commissioner said while these numbers are likely among the worst seen in California history, he expects the final tally to be even worse. 

"I think sadly these numbers are only going to climb, and I think sadly we're only going to see increasing numbers in terms of fatalities as the search and rescue people get into more remote areas that so far they've been unable to reach," Jones said.

There are Department of Insurance detectives on the ground in the affected areas to help deter scam artists working to prey on the fire victims. 

If you have fire insurance concerns, call the state's Department of Insurance Fire Hotline: 1-800-927-4357.