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As firefighters in Texas continue to battle raging wildfires, fueled by drought conditions, parched vegetation, low humidity and strong winds, insured losses from one of the fires are estimated at $150 million, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.

The Possum Kingdom fire, in Stephens and Palo Pinto Counties, about 90 miles west of Fort Worth, has destroyed 167 homes and two churches, according to the Texas Forest Service. The area has many new, very expensive homes, some of the most expensive of homes threatened by any other fires, said Mark Hanna, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas.

The Possum Kingdom fire, which has consumed more than 126,000 acres, was 80% contained as of April 26, said Doug Adolph, spokesman with the Texas Forest Service. Other huge wildfires include Wildcat, in Coke County, which has consumed some 160,000 acres, and, as of April 25 was 80% contained; the Rockhouse fire in Presidio and Jeff Davis Counties, which destroyed 23 homes and two commercial structures and was 75% contained; and the Pipeline fire in Tyler County, which burned 7,100 acres and threatened 40 homes and was 90% contained, according to the Texas Forest Service.

From January through April 24, more than 800 wildfires charred almost 1.5 million acres, destroyed 322 homes and 224 structures. Firefighting efforts have saved 5,779 homes, Adolph said. The fires started in mostly rural and isolated areas, but officials had concerns they would spread (BestWire, April 14, 2011).

Most of the counties in Texas -- 211 out of a total of 254 -- have instituted burn bans, Adolph said. The National Weather Service on April 26 issued a red flag warning, meaning conditions are ripe for fires, throughout all of western Texas and southeast New Mexico.

The companies with the largest market share in the Texas homeowners multiperil market in 2009 were State Farm Group, with a 28.77% share; Farmers Insurance Group, 13.47%; Allstate Insurance Group, 12.98%; USAA Group, 7.94%; and Travelers Group, 4.89%, according to BestLink, which provides online access to A.M. Best’s database of insurance information.

Posted 4:13 PM

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