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California Wildfire Insurance Claims Total $11.4 Billion For November 2018

Updated 5:00 a.m. ET Tuesday

California residents who suffered catastrophic losses due to the November 2018 wildfires filed insurance claims totaling $11.4 billion, according to new estimates released by state insurance officials.

The announcement by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara represents a 25 percent hike — more than $2.3 billion — over the estimate in December.

"Today, we have a clearer picture of the loss from the devastating Camp and Woolsey fires," said Commissioner Lara. "To the residents of Paradise, Butte, Malibu, Los Angeles and the other communities who have lost so much—we stand with you on the long road to recovery."

Butte County, which includes the Northern California town of Paradise, sustained the most damage. The Camp Fire there claimed 86 lives and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes. Claims from that fire alone total $8.4 billion, Lara said in a news conference.

Two other wildfires in Southern California, the Woolsey and the Hill Fires, resulted in almost $3 billion in damage claims.

Counting all of the other 2018 California wildfires, the total damage claims has reached $12.4 billion, Lara said.

The figures come as Pacific Gas and Electric Co., California's largest utility, was preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. Its transmission lines are suspected of igniting the Camp Fire, although an investigation is still ongoing.

A statement on PG&E's website, reads:

"We are continuing to provide safe and reliable electric and natural gas service. We are not "going out of business," and we expect that there will be no disruption to the services you expect from us as a result of the Chapter 11 process.

"Our extensive restoration and rebuilding efforts to help communities recover from the devastating wildfires are continuing. We are committed to these efforts and safety remains our most important responsibility.

"PG&E is also working very hard to address future wildfire risks and continuing to make critical investments in our systems and infrastructure to further improve safety."

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Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.