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The Oakland Fire's Awful Toll

In Business This Week


Fire officials and the insurance industry are toting up the cost of the disastrous fire that swept hillsides near Oakland, Calif. Besides causing at least 19 deaths, the fire destroyed nearly 2,500 homes and 440 apartments or condominiums, according to city officials. Among the three largest insurers in California, the still-growing claim numbers stood on Oct. 23 at $180 million for State Farm, $100 million for Farmers Group, and $93 million for Allstate.

Total estimates of damage varied. The city of Oakland sets the tab at $5.2 billion, including damage to both public and private property. The insurance industry, through the Property Claim Services Div. of American Insurance Services, has a much smaller preliminary estimate of $1.2 billion in damage to insured property. Based on that number, the insured damage from catastrophes so far this year stands at $4 billion, second only to the record $7.6 billion run up in 1989, when Hurricane Hugo lashed the East Coast and a severe earthquake rattled the San Francisco Bay area.EDITED BY HARRIS COLLINGWOOD

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