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The California wildfires hitting the local economy

Evie Fordham

Between the blazing wildfires and mandatory electricity shutoffs, Californians across the state are facing hardships they never anticipated.

Pacific Gas & Electric has been cutting service to prevent falling debris from striking powerlines over the past several days impacting about 2.5 million customers in total.

Businesses are closing, homeowners evacuating and the local economy is in peril.

Winds calmed Wednesday, easing the dangerous fire conditions and allowing PG&E to shift its focus to getting the electricity back on. But the pain moved south, where several fires broke out amid high winds in the Los Angeles area forcing evacuations.

Utilities in Southern California have shut off power to 250,000 people, although PG&E does not service that area.

Here are some of the industries and people being impacted by the wildfires:

Homeowners 

Perhaps one of the most notable impacts has been on homeowners. Thousands of Californians have been ordered to evacuate in the latest round of dangerous blazes.

And they may be on the hook to cover the cost of damages. Since early this year, following two consecutive wildfire years in the state, some insurance companies have opted not to renew certain fire-insurance plans, or hike prices up by thousands of dollars per year.

Steve Nielsen's Santa Rose home was destroyed in October 2017. His insurer, per the L.A. Times, canceled his policy on the grounds that there was “no longer a residence at the address they were insuring." He was on the hook to cover $60,000 of the rebuilding costs.

Some wealthy residents now are hiring private firefighters to protect their homes.

The cost is roughly $3,000 a day, and the private firefighters tend to focus on prevention measures, The New York Post reported. However, FOX Business previously reported that private firefighters are more likely to contract with insurance companies like USAA to offer mitigation services to customers.

When trying to fireproof a home, crews will rake away vegetation surrounding the home and close windows and vents, as well as install sprinkler systems and spray retardant.

Homeowners hiring private firefighters make up about 5 percent of the industry, David Torgerson of Wildfire Defense Systems told The Los Angeles Times last year.

Hollywood

Hollywood is taking a hit, too. A number of television and film productions have already ground to a halt because of the flames. A fire in the San Fernando Valley shut down freeways and caused disruptions to multiple filming schedules, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month.

Among them: ABC’s “Bless this Mess,” NBC’s “Perfect Harmony,” Freeform’s “Good Trouble,” “Party of Five,” CBS’ “SWAT” and Spectrum’s “LA’s Finest.”

Production of Showtime’s “Homeland” and the Warner Bros. movie “The Little Things” were expected to have adjusted filming schedules, too.

And Deadline reported that CBS' NCIS had also shut down for a period.

Wine Country

The Kincade fire started in California's Sonoma County, which is famous for its wineries. The fire had led to the county's largest evacuation in history as 200,000 people had to leave, Business Insider reported.

Wine and tourism are tied to roughly 40,000 jobs in the area, which is still recovering from deadly fires that blazed in 2017, FOX Business' Susan Li reported.

Even in areas where the fires aren't an imminent threat, lack of power is affecting wineries.

Businesses like Holly's Hill Vineyards east of Sacramento are resorting to generators.

"We hedged our bets by doing things in advance, since we knew power was likely going to come off," Holly's Hill winemaker Josh Bendick, told FOX Business in early October.

Generators

Due to the shutoffs, many homes and businesses are running on generators.

In an interview with FOX Business earlier this month, Generac Chairman and CEO Aaron Jagdfeld said, “We're doing everything we can to get as much product to that part of the country as we possibly can right now.” The stock has surged 86 percent this year as wildfires and hurricanes drive up demand.


Home Depot and Lowe's also see in a surge in demand for products used to combat natural disasters.

With power outages across the state, several agencies have called for common-sense safety practices, like treating downed streetlights as stop signs. Michael Jones, founder and senior energy consultant of California Energy Advisers, a solar energy firm in Los Angeles has an eye on the future: “I see a need for people to go green,” use solars panel and work to get off the grid,” he told FOX Business.

“There's no way around it anymore,” he said. Aside from solar power, going green can include installing energy-efficient windows, "heating and air conditioning, cool paint, water systems — everything you can put in a house so it produces more energy than it uses.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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