What does the housing slump, home builders and Garth Brooks have in common?

They've all provided benefits for Southern California's 2007 wildfire victims.

Since last year's wildfires in Southern California killed 10 people, charred 800 square miles and destroyed 2,200 homes, home owners have found relief from some unexpected places.

With Southern Californian's slumping housing market sending builders back to the drawing board, homeowners have found subdivision builders willing to take on single-site projects.

Mick Pattison, head of Barratt American said the slow down in home building has freed up builders to help wildfire victims quickly rebuild lost homes. He also said the misfortune of others was also creating jobs for construction workers.

The Associated Press reported homeowners have accepted offers from developers offering new custom homes at a discount. Homeowners are also using insurance money to buy existing tract homes in locations other than original home sites.

California law, enacted after wildfires in 2003, allows fire victims to use their full policy coverage amount to build or buy elsewhere.

Insurance companies have moved quickly too, already paying out $1.27 billion for wildfire damage. That's more than half the $2.26 billion in total claims filed.

The Northridge, CA-based Community Assisting Recovery nonprofit reported insurance claims processing speed was the fastest ever following a wildfire in the Golden State's southern region.

Insurance company complaints are few with less than two dozen related to underpayment by insurers. That's far fewer than complaints filed after the 2003 fires.

Reconstruction is fastest in hardest hit San Diego County where losses from wildfires reached nearly $1.2 billion. Some $1.1 billion in claims have been paid, according to California's Department of Insurance.

Putting songs in the hearts of wildfire victims, country-western giant Garth Brooks recently put his retirement on hold and performed a series of concerts in Los Angeles' Staples Center. He pledged more than $3 million to the wildfire relief effort.

Brooks, from Oklahoma, said he's experienced grass fires and was familiar with the devastating effects of wind and fire but was moved to perform the benefit because he'd never witnessed anything like the Southern California Fires.

San Bernardino County suffered $276 million in losses; Los Angeles County, more than $101 million; Orange County, more than $29 million; Riverside County, $9.2 million and Ventura nearly $3 million.

The wildfires resulted in 37,117 insurance claims filed.

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