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Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 27 September 2012 04:50

SYLMAR (CNS) – Victims of the 2008 Sayre Fire will receive $285,000 from insurers to settle alleged claims handling violations, the California Department of Insurance has announced. "We expect insurers and their agents to be thoroughly diligent in handling claims, especially as a result of the devastating losses caused by the Sayre Fire,'' said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

The New Hampshire Insurance Co.—a subsidiary of American International Group – issued mobile homeowners' policies to about 370 residents of the Oakridge Mobile Home Park who suffered the total loss of their homes in the devastating firestorm.

The fire occurred in Sylmar on Nov. 14, 2008, with flames as high as 50 feet being pushed by 70 mph Santa Ana winds. An estimated 1,300 firefighters were needed to contain the blaze, which burned 11,262 acres.

More than 600 structures were destroyed including 480 homes in the mobile home park. Another nine single-family homes, 104 outbuildings and 10 commercial buildings were also destroyed.

Approximately 10,000 people were forced to evacuate properties. Only 125 homes in Oakridge survived the blaze.

One fire victim, Josie Rodriguez, described the mobile home park as "a great place to live. You had unbelievable hope there. It was just exquisite. Residents took a lot of pride in their homes.

"There was no place like it. Unless you've ever been there, you can't relate." Another resident, Celia Ordaz, said, "it's like a bomb fell there" after viewing the smoldering aftermath.

The department received complaints about the extent of coverage under the policies and in 2009 was able to get about $10.8 million in increased payments for Sayre Fire victims -- an additional 110 to 125 percent of fire insurance coverage for most policyholders.

The additional settlement announced is related to complaints about claims handling by the AIG subsidiary and York Services Group Inc.

Mike Terry contributed to this report.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 September 2012 04:52