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Foothill residents urged to make sure they have fire insurance coverage

With fire season underway, homeowners shouldn't skimp on policies but should not overinsure either, officials say.

August 06, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County officials are advising foothill residents to make sure their homes are protected and insured amid this year's already devastating fire season.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, Los Angeles County firefighters and members of the county's Commission on Insurance gathered Wednesday at Fire Camp No. 2 in La Cañada Flintridge to discuss options for home fire protection and to remind residents to check their insurance policies for fire coverage.

"All we want is to make sure the residents of Glendale and Burbank are prepared to rebuild should there be a fire," said Scott Svonkin, the commission's chairman.

Officials say the 14,000-acre Crown fire that broke out last week in the Antelope Valley and last summer's 160,000-acre Station fire should prompt residents to get their homes and families prepared in advance.

"We want to make sure everyone is informed and they make educated decisions to cover themselves and to protect themselves from losses … such as those that happened in the Sayre fire and the Station fire," Svonkin said. "Those were horrible tragedies."

Homeowners should not skimp on their insurance policies, so they are able to rebuild their homes if they are destroyed, commission member Luther Nash said. They should also obtain extended replacement coverage but be careful to not overinsure their homes.

"Remember, much of the value of your home is in land, and land does not burn," Nash said.

Homeowners should also ascertain replacement costs on their valuables, officials said, and review their insurance policies with an agent.

In addition, residents should be familiar with the "Ready, Set, Go" wildfire action plan, said county fire Deputy Chief David Richardson.

"Los Angeles County Fire Department takes every precaution to protect you and your property from wildfire," he said. "However, we ask our homeowners to take a proactive approach to prepare for such a wildland fire before it happens."

As a result of the Station fire, which killed two county firefighters, Antonovich said he is hoping the U.S. Forest Service will change its nighttime flying and brush-clearance policies.

"We are hopeful that the U.S. Forest Service will revise their antiquated policies, so that when we see a fire that's spreading, we have the ability to go in and put it out and not be tied up in red tape from Washington that ties the hands of Fire Department personnel," he said.

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