Private Firefighters Are Helping Save Some Wealthy Californians’ Homes From Wildfires
As the death toll continues to climb from the wildfires raging across California and residents begin to try to rebuild, there’s a handful of lucky people who will not be faced with such a daunting task.
Among them? Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
The celebrity power couple called in private firefighters to save their $60 million home earlier this week. These “for-hire” firefighters are often provided as a service as part of certain insurance companies’ coverage plans, but come at a high cost.
A number of insurance companies, for example, have a contract with a Montana-based company called Wildfire Defense Systems, which can dispatch private fire engines and firefighters to protect the homes of its clients in the case of a fire.
While these services are often provided free of charge with certain insurance plans, the policies themselves come with a hefty price tag. According to CBS News, such a policy could cost between $2,500 and $8,000 a year in a city like Malibu. What’s more, CBS reports that most of these insurance companies will only offer the service to homes worth over $2 million, meaning that the less wealthy would be unable to benefit from such protections.
As such, the policies have drawn criticism for exacerbating inequalities—providing some people with additional protection from a wildfire but not others. Those who qualify for AIG’s service, for example, comprise 42% of Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans, reports NBC News.
Ultimately, however, wildfires don’t discriminate—other celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Gerard Butler lost their homes to the fires, while thousands of structures in the town of Paradise have burned.
While the cause of the fires is still being investigated, there are reports that a malfunction from PG&E’s power lines could be culpable in the case of the Camp Fire in Paradise. The company’s shares have dropped nearly 50% in the last five days, and it now faces a lawsuit due to alleged negligence.