• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Sayre Fire insurance money distributed

April 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Sayre Fire destroyed nearly 500 homes when it tore through the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in the Sylmar area. Now, homeowners who were insured through AIG will be getting a lot more money.The Oakridge Mobile Home park has been scrubbed clean of the debris, but the telltale signs of the Sayre fire are still everywhere.

There's the empty concrete landings where homes once stood. There's the burned vegetation. But Tuesday, a big break for the hundreds of homeowners who lost everything.

"It's a tremendous announcement," said L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon. "These people will be made whole by those policies."

Alarcon represents this area. He says a settlement announced Tuesday by the insurance giant AIG and the state of California means that hundreds of homeowners will receive millions in additional money. Three-hundred-seventy of the 485 homes that were destroyed were insured by AIG. Homeowners will receive an average of $125,000 on top of their existing policies.

"This particular accomplishment is going to benefit, I think, these people the most. They will be at ease," said Alarcon.

The Sayre Fire ripped through the Oakridge Park last November, and although dozens of homes survived the blaze, those homeowners have not been allowed to return.

"They want access back into these properties," said Alarcon. "The state and the city felt it was in their interest and in everybody's interest to have them not come in while the debris-removal process would come in to avoid any toxicity and also getting in the way of the debris removal process and slowing it down."

Alarcon says the debris removal should be completed by May 4, and he says that with the additional insurance money, rebuilding should begin soon.