SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Insured losses from wildfires raging through the U.S. state of California in October have hit 3 billion U.S. dollars, the state's insurance department announced Tuesday.
"As shocking as 3 billion dollars in insured losses are, the number is sure to grow, as more claims are coming," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in a press release issued on Tuesday.
The figure has increased three times in just two weeks and is expected to climb higher, as the latest statistics show that a total of 43 people were killed while 14,700 homes, 728 businesses, and more than 3,600 private autos, commercial vehicles and farm equipment were damaged in the statewide wildfires that ripped through four counties in the northern part of western California early this month.
"The insured losses only tell part of the tragic story of the October fires ... It will take years for these communities to recover and rebuild," Jones said.
As of Sunday, the California Department of Insurance's consumer services team has provided aid to 1,163 individuals across the state, the majority of whom are in northern California.
Earlier this month, Jones signed a declaration of emergency, which allows the insurance department to cut red tape in processing tens of thousands of claims and to help speed up the recovery and rebuilding process.
The department said it has recovered more than 300 million dollars for consumers since Jones took office in 2011.
On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown described the October fires as "the most lethal and destructive wildfire" disaster in the history of California.