The Chubb Insurance Group, a leading insurer of homeowners and personal art collections worldwide, announced in a press release on May 8 that the company has sent a new kind of aid to its customers in fire-ravaged Santa Barbara, Calif. The insurer contracted Wildfire Defense Systems, Inc., to help protect customers’ homes by deploying private fire engines and crews to flame-threatened areas.
The Jesusita Fire has been raging since May 5 in the foothill and canyon neighborhoods of Santa Barbara.
“We have sprayed a number of the homes with fire-blocking gel and have taken other protective measures. We are in continuous contact with Incident Command and are fully coordinating our efforts with them," said Scott Spencer, worldwide loss prevention manager for Chubb Personal Insurance. "So far, we are having a lot of success in protecting our clients' homes."
According to the Santa Barbara Independent, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman David Sadecki said that Chubb “is not coordinating with us to our knowledge. We wouldn’t have them on our plan.” However, he said it is possible that private companies with trucks similar in appearance to the many government fire trucks on the scene may have been allowed through the roadblocks, but they would not be given permission to battle blazes.
The cause of the Jesusita wildfire is under investigation. Dozens of homes have been destroyed, according to recent reports, but the final number will not be known until the blaze is under control. Evening “sundowners,” very high winds, have driven flames east and west along the Santa Ynez Mountain range for four days so far.
Santa Barbara, known as America’s Riviera, is a city of about 90,000 nestled between the mountains and ocean. Last November, the Tea Fire destroyed about 230 homes here. A number of these casualties were beautifully-appointed artists’ homes in the enclave of Montecito’s East Mountain Drive. One of these homes was once visited by ArtfixDaily. The contents included a collection of Southwestern art, Anglo-Indian furniture, and Spanish Colonial santos figures. Hopefully, the residence and collections were properly insured.
Over 30,000 residents in Santa Barbara and neighboring Goleta and Montecito were given evacuation orders, including ArtfixDaily.com staff headquartered in Santa Barbara. We are blogging from the Inn at East Beach, which is also the temporary station of the Los Angeles Fire Department, who are assisting with the firefight.