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Residents reminded about fire insurance

Supervisor, firefighters urge foothill residents to properly cover their homes.

August 05, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Los Angeles County officials on Wednesday advised foothill residents to make sure their homes are protected and insured amid this year's already devastating fire season.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Los Angeles County firefighters and members of the county's Commission on Insurance gathered at Fire Camp No. 2 in La Cañada to discuss options for home fire protection and to remind them 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.

With firefighters declaring full containment of the 14,000-acre Crown fire that broke out last week in the Antelope Valley and destroyed nine structures, officials say the blaze and the devastating 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."

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Homeowners shouldn't skimp on their insurance policies so they are able to rebuild their residence if it's destroyed, commission member Luther Nash said. They should also obtain extended replacement coverage, but be careful to not over-insure their homes, he added.

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

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

Residents should also 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 deadly 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.

A federal inspector general has launched an investigation into the Station fire after learning that dispatch recordings had been withheld from a U.S. Forest Service review team looking into the initial firefighting response.

And Rep. Adam Schiff is convening a panel next week in Pasadena with two other congressional representatives to discuss the Station fire response.

For more fire coverage tips, visit the commission's website at http://www.lacic.org and the county Fire Department website at http://www.fire.lacounty.gov.

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