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The Fort McMurray Fire
What initially started out as 7,500 hectares of land burned by May 3 (Cotter, 2016) quickly ballooned out of control to nearly 600,000 hectares in Alberta and Saskatchewan by June (Ross, 2016).
When the fire hit its peak, there were 2,292 firefighters, 90 helicopters, 273 pieces of heavy equipment and 20 air tankers currently battling the fires across Alberta (Update 28 - 2016 Wildfires (May 29 at 2 p.m.), 2016).
Wildfire crews from around the world hurried to support the firefighting efforts in Alberta, which included:
- 298 firefighters from South Africa
- 199 firefighters from the United States
- 113 firefighters from British Columbia
- 84 firefighters from Ontario
- 48 firefighters from Northwest Territories
- 29 firefighters from Parks Canada
- One firefighter from CIFFC
- Seven firefighters from New Brunswick
- 34 firefighters from Saskatchewan
- Two firefighters from Manitoba
- 19 firefighters from Newfoundland/Prince Edward Island
88 per cent of the land devastated in the Fort McMurray wildfire was at a high or very high risk for succumbing to fire damage due to many buildings’ proximity… to nearby forestry (Mah, 2016).
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To help cope with and lessen future losses, the home insurance market is now on the brink of a technological revolution, involving advanced scoring methods to help assess risk factors for people living in areas vulnerable to natural disasters.
Third party insurance services firm Verisk, based in New Jersey, is expanding its FireLine wildfire risk management service to insurers in the heavily forested provinces of Alberta and British Columbia (Mah, 2016). FireLine carefully assesses the risk factors for areas prone to wildfire by using satellite, weather, and topography data (Mah, 2016).
The company’s expansion comes after the successful proliferation of its services across the Western United States (Mah, 2016).
Services like FireLine are expected to help with insurance underwriting, rating, and exposure management and assist insurance companies with all future decision-making.
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