Wildfire Trial Lawyers Investigate Cause of Lake County Pawnee Fire

Eric Ratinoff Law Corp and his team of Wildfire Trial Lawyers are investigating the cause of the Pawnee Fire that broke out in Lake County over the weekend. The Pawnee Fire is among a group of wildfires, including the Creek FireLane Fire and Stoll Fire, which had already burned over 12,000 acres in Tehama, Shasta, Lake, Tuolumne and Calaveras counties as of Sunday evening.

The Pawnee Fire started Saturday evening near Pawnee Road and New Long Valley Road, northeast of Clearlake Oaks in Lake County. It quickly grew to burn 8,200 acres overnight. According to Cal Fire, their crews could not get it contained due to unpredictable winds, high temperatures and low humidity. The fire has destroyed 12 homes and continues to threaten 600 additional structures.

In an effort to protect the rights of home and property owners, our team of wildfire experts is investigating the cause of these fires. If the fires originate due to someone’s negligence, home and property owners may be entitled to compensation for loss of their homes, structures, businesses, vegetation, trees, cherished belongings, income, medical bills, as well as the pain and suffering involved in being evacuated and displaced from their homes.

Wildfire Trial Attorneys Can Help

Eric Ratinoff Law Corp represented hundreds of families and business owners after the 2015 Butte Fire in California. Our team has decades of collective success with wildfire cases and has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of clients. Attorneys on our team have spearheaded (and been appointed as lead trial counsel and/or on plaintiff’s liaison committee) some of the largest wildfire litigation in California, including:

  • The 2007 San Diego Wildfires (Rice/Witch-Guejito Fires);
  • The 2012 Wood Hollow Fire;
  • The 2015 Butte Fire; and
  • The 2016 Erskine Fire.

Our expertise handling wildfire claims give us the unique position to aid those who suffered injuries, deaths of loved ones, property destruction, and other damages in Northern California Wildfires.

If you have been impacted by a Northern California Wildfire and want to learn how to protect your legal rights, call our office for a free and confidential claim evaluation. We have walked hundreds of people through the painful steps of recovery after losing their homes and communities to devastating wildfires, and we are here to answer the many questions you likely have about the road ahead. Whether it’s a question about what your insurance company is obligated to do for you, or what to do if you have no insurance at all, we will listen to your concerns and provide as much information as we can give.

What to do if your Home was Damaged or Destroyed by a Wildfire

If your home was damaged or destroyed due to a Northern California Wildfire, you’ll need to know what steps to take in the days to come. Retaining an experienced wildfire lawyer can significantly help you during the first stages of the recovery process. An attorney can provide advice about what to do, who to call, and how to seek maximum recovery for everything you lost.

These are the steps you should take after surviving a destructive fire. 

Seek Safety

The environment during the aftermath of a major wildfire is unsafe. Wildfires are still a threat, and it is likely not yet safe to camp on burnt property or begin rebuilding. Water, smoke damage, and ashes left behind from a fire can also pose risks to your health and safety. You should only return to the property once government officials give the authorization to do so. When you return, be very careful if you enter your home. Touching fire-damaged items can be hazardous. You may need to ask for help from the fire department.

Get Assistance

Reach out to local disaster relief services for you and your family’s immediate needs. Many local organizations offer shelter, food, clothing, and other basic necessities to displaced fire victims. There may also be hotels in your region reopening to take in fire victims who cannot return home. If your home has been destroyed or you are simply unable to return to it yet, you may need to consider leaving the area for a week or more, until things have settled. Keep all of your receipts for housing, food, and other necessities.

Call Your Insurance Company

Notify your homeowners insurance company immediately about the damage or destruction of your home. You may get phone calls from public adjusters or others claiming to offer “deals” for rebuilding your home. Be sure to speak to your insurance company before talking with any other party. Unfortunately, there are predatory people who take advantage of fire victims and their vulnerability during the confusion and aftermath of a major fire. Discuss these things with your agent. They can tell you what you should do about the immediate needs of your home. The company may require you to try to minimize damage, such as pumping out water.

Record Your Losses and Expenses

Make as comprehensive a list as possible of everything you lost in the fire. We know it will take time to remember the extent of what you lost, but it is a critical part of the recovery process. Your list should include all the personal possessions you can remember and an estimate of their values. Your insurance company will want you to describe lost property in detail, and include how you originally paid for items. Many of your most cherished belongings may not have a price tag, or their value to you may far exceed any monetary worth to another person. For those items, make a separate list and attach an explanation of why they are so valuable to you.

The company may also require receipts for any expenses you incur during evacuation and recovery. Take photos of the damage for your records.

Ask for Advice

Ask your insurance company for names of companies and contractors you can trust for repairs and rebuilding. You may need to hire services to protect your home from further damage, repair damaged properties, estimate costs to replace destroyed property, clean fire and smoke damage, and more. Be sure to ask your insurance company who will pay for these services. Insurance policies often cover them. Again, keep all of your receipts. 

Cooperate with the Insurance Investigation

Your insurance company or companies will need to investigate your claim. Be sure to cooperate fully with your insurance company for the fastest recovery.

Contact an Attorney

Finally, call us for a free consultation about where to go from here. Your insurance policy may not offer adequate coverage if you suffered total loss of your home. To make a full recovery, you will need to pursue other means, such as the civil legal system. A conversation with one of our experienced wildfire attorneys can help you see potential legal options available to you after a devastating wildfire. Call us or fill out the form on our page today for more information.