Sunset Beach, CA $10M House Fires

So, yes, this is a blog devoted to business insurance topics, but sometimes events happen close to home that stir interest and are worth writing about. One such event is a major fire that occurred Thursday in Sunset Beach, only a few miles from home down the road on Pacific Coast Highway.

At least three different million dollar beach-front homes were severely damaged or destroyed by an intense fire. More than 80 firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon. One of the homes involved actually collapsed from fire damage and two others sustained major damage.

Here’s some raw footage from YouTube user medxproductions:

Firefighters from Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and the county fire authority fought the blaze. The cause of the initial fire might have been an overturned barbecue grill, officials said.

The Orange County Fire Authority advised that damage to the four buildings could reach $10 million . That includes damage and contents to the four homes torched by the fire, three of which have been red-tagged and deemed uninhabitable.

One neighbor said “I always imagined that we would have an earthquake or tsunami, but never a fire. Its one of those things that you actually dont prepare for.” As an insurance agent, these are infamous last words often heard after a major loss. Sadly, many don’t feel like an event of this magnitude will ever happen to them. As a result, they might pass on insurance, or under-insure their belongings and possessions  in order to “save money” on premiums.

Regardless, summer is approaching and barbecue season has arrived. Now that the season is here, it’s essential that you’re barbecuing safely. Here are some recommendations provided by the U.S. Fire Administration:

Use Barbecue Grills Safely

  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking food.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
  • Use only outdoors! If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, barbecue grills pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.

Charcoal Grills

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

Propane Grills

  • Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.
  • If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
  • Turn off the propane tank and grill.
  • If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
  • If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
  • All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
  • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  • Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

Commercial Insurance or personal insurance, fires are a reality for all and should not be taken lightly. They don’t discriminate on who they target. Learn from events like these that this can happen to anyone. Be certain your property insurance policies are up to date with the coverages you need to protect your livelihood.


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About Jimmy Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management

Jimmy is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage based in Torrance and Irvine, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Tustin, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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