Official: California fire losses top $1 billion

(AP) – California’s insurance commissioner says preliminary estimates of losses from the state’s recent siege of wildfires exceed $1 billion and that the figure is expected to rise.

Commissioner Dave Jones told reporters in Los Angeles Thursday that the estimate comes from the eight largest insurers in the affected areas.

Authorities say nearly 7,000 homes and structures were destroyed in Northern California’s deadly wildfires.

That number also is expected to increase. A few dozen homes and other structures also recently burned in a Southern California fire.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency announced Thursday it will speed federal disaster assistance to people affected by wildfires in Sonoma, Napa and other northern California counties.

The agency says it will grant a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration-backed mortgages, among other assistance. HUD says there are tens of thousands of FHA-insured homeowners affected by the fires.

HUD says it will also modify loans for borrowers having trouble making payments due to the wildfires.

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