Sonoma County Report: Kincade Fire, PG&E Power Shutoffs Cost County $725 Million

A firefighter pulls a hose along Chalk Hill Road as he battles the wind-driven Kincade Fire in Windsor, California, U.S. October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A firefighter pulls a hose along Chalk Hill Road as he battles the wind-driven Kincade Fire in Windsor, California, U.S. October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

The Kincade Fire and evacuations and four PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs last fall cost Sonoma County $725 million in economic losses, according to a report to the county’s Board of Supervisors.

The report by the Moody’s Analytics research company said the fire and the evacuation of residents between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6 cost $620 million in losses, about 2 percent of the county’s total economic output, and the power shutoffs between Oct. 9 and Nov. 20 cost $105 million — between 0.33 and 1 percent of the economic output.

The Kincade Fire that started northeast of Geyserville near The Geysers geothermal complex burned 77,758 acres and destroyed 374 structures, 174 of them are residences. Sixty structures were damaged, 35 of them residential.

Almost 195,000 residents, or 39 percent of the county’s population, were affected by the four power shutoffs, and the average resident was disrupted by any single shutoff for 2.5 days, according to the Moody’s Analytics report.

Sonoma County officials said 185,000 residents were evacuated during the Kincade Fire.

The lost output per resident because of the fire and power shutoffs was approximately $765 — less than 2 percent of the median household income for residents. The loss of output per business was approximately $16,500, according to the report.

The report said Sonoma County’s population fell by almost 0.7 percent in 2018 after the October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County, the sharpest drop in a half-century. The report, however, said housing affordability and cost of living are more significant factors for the loss of
population.