During the height of the Woolsey Fire, private firefighting teams could be seen protecting homes of the rich and famous.
Some insurance companies have had their own private firefighting teams now for nearly a decade. John Rheinbolt is part of the Montana-based group Wildfire Defense Systems, on the payroll of an insurance company when the wildfires broke out last week. He says they worked with fire operations and were not part of the tactical plan during the Woolsey Fire.
The insurance company had 20 engines with teams of firefighters protecting 300 homes. It’s still unknown how many of those homes were damaged or destroyed. Last week, Chris Cassidy says flames came within 20 yards of his Bell Canyon home, forcing his family to evacuate.
He says knowing they had the service gave him a peace of mind.
“There was no charge for it,” he said. “It’s something the insurance company does to mitigate their loses and potential losses so it benefits both of us.”
He says he’s among the lucky. His home wasn’t damaged. But since he was evacuated he doesn’t know if the private team of firefighters responded to his home. He credits all the firefighters for saving his entire neighborhood.