As of Friday, the National Interagency Fire Center reported that 19 wildfires have burned nearly 500,000 acres in states like Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Five additional large fires were reported in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona and Idaho.

The Associated Press reported that at least 11,000 residents were evacuated from the town of Manitou Springs and the nearby communities of Cascade, Chipita Park and Green Mountain Falls, Colorado.

In case of a loss, a property insurance policy should cover a business for fire-related damages to the building and its contents. If a wildfire shuts down the business temporarily, the Business Interruption coverage form should cover the business for its loss of profits or earnings until the property damages are repaired and the business resumes to its normal operations.

If the wildfire does not actually damage the business property, but access to the business is restricted by way of a mandatory evacuation or damage to access roads and infrastructure, the business may recover its lost profits through its Civil Authority or Ingress/Egress coverage forms. For an in depth discussion of the requirements of Civil Authority coverage, please read The Nuances of Civil Authority Coverage – Understanding Business Interruption Claims and Nevada Wildfires: Business Interruption Losses Caused By Order of Civil Authority.

The dry conditions, gusty winds and temperature in 90s will continue fueling fires for the next several weeks and businesses should be prepared, not only by making sure that there’s adequate coverage in place, but by taking preventative measures that can save a business from shutting its doors permanently should insurance companies fail to adequately or timely extend coverage. I found the following tips on the Internet, A business owner’s guide to wildfires, that should assist many businesses in the western states in preparing for the dry season.

Fire-proofing your business

  • Create a "defensible space" around your property. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends removing vegetation (particularly dry or dead vegetation and flammable species like pine) within 30 feet of your building so they don’t provide more kindling during a wildfire. Move propane tanks, gas grills and piles of firewood as far away as possible.

  • Take a closer look at your roof. Roofs with a lot of ridges can allow debris to accumulate and set embers ablaze, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS). Clean your gutters regularly, and use flame-retardant roofing materials if possible.

  • Reinforce your windows. Flames and the radiant energy they create could be enough to break window glass. IIBHS recommends installing dual-pane windows with tempered glass.

  • When you find yourself in the immediate path of a wildfire seconds count. FEMA recommends turning off the gas, filling garbage cans and any large containers with water, closing all interior doors and leaving doors unlocked so that firefighters can gain quick entry if needed.