All of Calabasas Evacuated, But Some Areas in L.A. and Ventura Counties Repopulated
The Woolsey fire, burning west of Los Angeles, has claimed over 85,000 acres as it continues to blaze, fighting the efforts of firefighters trying to stifle it. The small improvement in weather conditions over Veteran’s Day weekend in 2018 allowed firefighters to gain a small percentage of control over the fire, but the Santa Ana winds have carried flames and embers even further.
Residents in western Los Angeles county and southeastern Ventura County have been evacuated as dozens of homes and have been lost and the fire has threatened even more damage. Over 275,000 individuals were made to leave as the fire hit Malibu and other coastal areas. Those located near the 101 Freeway were rushed out.
The extent of the damage of the fire has been increasing since it started; celebrities have spoken about the destruction and endangerment of their homes, and many individuals located in Calabasas and Thousand Oaks have had to leave behind houses as they rushed to evacuate.
If you are a resident of Calabasas, Malibu, Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Westlake Village, Los Angeles, or other nearby cities where the Woolsey Fire is taking place, you may have a smoke and ash claim on your hands.
Fire, Smoke, and Ash Damage to Property
As wildfires burn, the effects can cause great damage to your property. Most apparently, the fire itself can chew up your house, destroy your lawn, incinerate your belongings, scorch your yard, and more. Fire is difficult to control, especially a wildfire, and you should be extremely cautious at all times when there is a blaze nearby.
However, there are also damages that can happen that are not caused directly by flames. Smoke and ash can wreak havoc in their own unique ways, including:
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- Ventilation systems: Smoke and ash can clog up ventilation systems and cause the air within a structure to become polluted and dangerous to breathe.
- Personal items: If smoke and ash get inside a home and are distributed via fans or air conditioning, all sorts of personal belongings can be destroyed or damage. Carpets, rugs, paintings, pictures, curtains, and more can all be rendered useless, and the smoke can cause aesthetic damage to walls and such.
- Lawn, yard, and garden areas: Many people have some sort of plant life on their property, whether it’s fruit-bearing trees, vegetable gardens, well-maintained lawns, extensive grass, bushes, shrubbery, and more. The stray ash can settle on the soil and suffocate the plants; stray cinders and embers can even burn the plants throughout the day. It is possible that the gardens and lawns may never return to the flourishing nature they once had, and removing the dead plants and replacing them may be an expensive and lengthy process.
- Plumbing and water systems: Ash can very easily slip into the water systems and pipes, causing a lot of buildup. Your toilet may clog, sink may not drain, hose may spew ash-ridden water, and many other problems might occur. In these instances, you will likely need an extensive treatment by a plumber.
- Heating systems: Many of the ducts in your home are interconnected, and if ash gets into the heating system, it can spread inside rather easily. These systems might become compromised if ash and soot get inside of them.
- Pools, hot tubs, and jacuzzis: Many of the pools in Southern California are kept clean by the water pump systems and filters, but if these filters get clogged from soot and ash, the entire pool can become dirty and the filtration can get ruined. It can be extremely costly to fix these issues.
Mandatory evacuation orders were lifted in the following Ventura County communities:
- Camarillo Springs
- California State University Channel Islands
- Dos Vientos
- Vallecito Trailer Park
- Newbury Park – South of Highway 101 to Lynn Road, between Reino Road and Lynn Road
- Thousand Oaks – East of Highway 23 to Erbes Road and north from Thousand Oaks to Sunset Hills boulevards
- Thousand Oaks – West of Highway 23 between East Olsen Road and Sunset Hills Boulevard
- Thousand Oaks – East of Erbes Road, south of Olsen Road, west of WestlakeBoulevard, and north of the 101 Freeway
- Thousand Oaks – Lynn Rd, north of Potrero Road, west of Westlake Boulevard, and south of Highway 101.
- Simi Valley – Long Canyon, Bridal Path, Wood Ranch
The numerous damages that you can suffer on your property can be covered by homeowner’s insurance. It is wise to reach out to your provider to file a claim, but there is a chance that the agent will not honor your request. In these times, it is crucial that you hire an attorney ot help you with your fire damage claim.
Problems with Fire Damage Claims and Insurance Agents
Homeowner’s insurance allows you to have your property protected in the case of any debilitating events, such as fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and more. The key is to have ample documentation of your property to showcase the results of the incident. If you do not have a fair amount of evidence, the insurance agent can declare that the damage was likely caused prior to the incident.
There are times when the structural damage to your home is not deemed important or extensive enough to grant you a settlement. The insurance agent will likely examine your property and do a number of things to ensure that your claim is not strong. For one, he may not inform you about damages he encounters, especially if you do not notice them yourself. He will not see a point in giving you more information and reason for your claim to be valid.
He may fabricate the report or downplay the damage to your home. He could even refuse to investigate certain areas of the home. Generally, insurance adjusters will only agree to paying out maximum compensation if your home has been totally destroyed or must be razed because of the damage.
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Mandatory Evacuations Los Angeles County
For the latest information about evacuations in L.A. County, visit www.lacounty.gov/woolseyfire.
- Malibu – entire city plus areas south of 101 Freeway from Ventura County border to Las Virgines/Malibu Canyon, southward to the ocean
- Hidden Hills – entire community – residents urged to take Valley Circle Boulevard towards Chatsworth
- Monte Nido/ Topanga – entire community
- Liberty Canyon west to Decker Canyon and south all the way to Pacific Coast Highway
- Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon east to Decker Canyon and west to Malibu/PCH
- Oak Park – entire community
- Bell Canyon – entire community
- South of Bard Lake, east of Highway 23
- South of Highway 101, east of Reino Road, north of Potrero Road, East to the Los Angeles/Ventura County Line
- West Hills, west of Valley Circle Boulevard with border to the north at Roscoe Boulevard and to the south at Vanowen Street.
- Thousand Oaks – Thousand Oaks Boulevard north to Sunset Hills, from Oak Park west to Highway 23
- West of Highway 23, south of Olsen Road, north to Pederson Road
When an insurance agent refuses to abide by the policy you pay for and you are not treated to the payment you deserve for the services you subscribe to, it is an act of bad faith. The insurance company can be held responsible and be made to pay out the claim in a court of law. A fire and ash claim lawsuit lawyer can help.
Steps to Take to File a Smoke and Ash Claim
You should file a smoke and ash claim as soon as it is safe to return home. The insurance agent will be notified and will conduct an examination of the premises. You will need to make a list of all the items, locations, structures, and more that have been damaged and submit it to the agent. You should also have an adequate awareness of your policy and what you are eligible to receive.
Photos will be crucial to your claim, as they can show the before and after of damages. Personal items that were destroyed or damaged can be covered, but you will have an easier time if you have the receipts or statements showing that you owned the items. You can also show comparisons to other homes in the area to bolster your claim; if the neighborhood suffered similar damage, it will be better proof than if only your home were hit by the fire or any residual effects.
If you do not find that your insurance company is providing you with the services you deserve, or if you feel that the compensation being offered is too low, contact our law firm for more assistance.
How We Help You
The Downtown LA Law Group in Los Angeles can provide you with a fire and ash claim attorney who will represent you. We will handle your claim and ensure that the insurance company does not pull any tricks or mistreat you. Our team of attorneys has years of combined experience with cases involving those whose homes have been damaged by wildfires, and we know that insurance companies are often loath to pay out claims. We know exactly how to secure you the compensation you deserve, and if we need to aggressively fight for your rights in court, we are willing to do so.
Call our offices today to set up a free legal consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. If you have specific questions, we will answer them, and we will tell you the best route to take to get your claim paid out. All of our consultations are confidential; none of your private information and case details will be shared elsewhere.
If you select us to represent you, we’ll give you our zero fee guarantee, a promise that ensures that you won’t have to pay a single dime of out of pocket expenses throughout the case. We will cover the costs of the lawsuit and will only get paid if we win; the insurance company will cover the legal fees. If we lose, we take nothing at all. Your finances should remain untouched if you are pursuing rightful compensation that belongs to you.
Don’t hesitate – contact the Downtown LA Law Group to speak with a smoke and ash claim attorney about any damages stemming from the Woolsey fire.