*This week, the Los Angeles Fire Department investigators announced that the Skirball fire was started by a cooking fire at a homeless camp, as reported by PEOPLE.
By the time the fire burned out, more than 400 acres of Bel-Air had been destroyed, while around 20 homes were burned or damaged in the blaze.
The fire put the homes of celebrities such as Jay-Z and Beyonce, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon at risk of destruction.
The devastating wildfires in California, including the extremely destructive Skirball Fire that recently tore through Bel Air, has affected thousands of Southern California residents, from nuns to celebrities.
Rupert Murdoch’s Bel Air estate burned to the ground last week, for instance, and Tesla owner Elon Musk also calls Bel Air home. According to The Guardian, many wealthy residents of the area are flocking to high-end hotels like Angeleno until the fires die down. However, the millionaires of Bel Air and Sherman Oaks aren’t the only residents forced out of their homes because of the Southern California wildfires.
Mother nature doesn’t discriminate. Case in point: the Wong family, which lost two homes, to two separate wildfires, within two months this year.
ABC News reports that the family of three left their first home in Northern California when wildfires tore through Sonoma County, including through their Santa Rosa home. Even more tragic, the Wong family had moved into that home just six months prior to the fires.
This year the average home sells and closes in 46 days, but when the Wongs moved to Northern California from Ventura, they decided not to sell their home. Now, that home has also burned to the ground.
“It was surreal, more like numb you know. Did this really happen to us?” said Pratima Wong tearfully, as reported by ABC News. “For the second time, it’s a lot harder.”
Typically, most homeowners are focused on basic home improvement, landscaping, or renovations. About 76% of homeowners will upgrade their kitchen during a renovation, for instance. However, the recent wildfires have many California homeowners putting off that long-desired kitchen remodel in favor of more practical renovations, such as “fire-proofing” their homes. There are many ways for homeowners to protect their homes from natural disasters. For instance, a metal roof will protect a home from hurricane force winds of 140 miles per hour. Unfortunately, there is virtually nothing you can do to save your home if a wildfire comes to the neighborhood.
So far, more than 800 structures have been destroyed and one fatality has been recorded. While wildfires are not unusual in California, which has struggled with droughts in recent years, but this year’s wildfire seasons is much worse than normal. Not only that, but Governor Jerry Brown says that these severe wildfires are likely to become the new normal on the West Coast in the years to come.
While 52% of home buyers say that simply finding the right property is often the most difficult part of buying a house, finding a home that isn’t at risk of wildfires in Southern California could become a challenge in the future.
“We’re facing a new reality in this state, where fires threaten people’s lives, their property, their neighborhoods, and of course billions and billions of dollars,” Brown said at a press conference. “And we know from the changing in the climate that it’s going to exacerbate everything else,” Brown added, according to a report from NBC News.
If that prediction comes true, it could have untold effects on the national economy. California’s economy is larger than most countries on earth, and the threat of future fires could have a depressing effect on the real estate and construction markets worldwide. As of summer 2017, the U.S. commercial construction industry is worth $437.8 million. In the short-term, there may be an uptick in construction as Californians rebuild, but the long-term effects could be disastrous if less people build in the path of a potential wildfire in the first place.
In the same way, the landscaping industry is expected to experience 5.9% growth through 2019, but a major downturn in California could change that outlook.
For weeks, California firefighters have been hard at work rescuing both celebrity and everyday homes alike across Southern California. Because no matter the size or value of a home, it can still burn.