Country’s first “wildfire-prepared” home is constructed


A California wildfire in 2020 (Credit: Anda Chu/MediaNews Group/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

A roof made from material that is resistant to catching fire from embers. An eighth-inch mesh screen over vents in the attic. Clear gutters. At least 5 feet of space to the nearest combustible materials — including wood fencing.

These are some of the parameters needed for a home to be designated as “wildfire-prepared” by the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety.

And those measures and others were taken into account during the construction of a home in Paradise, California — where the Camp Fire, the most destructive and deadly wildfire in the state’s history ripped through in 2018 — making it the first home in the country to earn the designated.

KCRA Channel 3 is reporting the classification demonstrates the homeowner has taken the scientifically proven steps necessary to mitigate the risk of total home loss in the event of a wildfire.

Engineers and scientists with the institute have researched wildfires for more than 10 years, searching for building materials and methods that can keep homes from burning down during a wildfire.

“All of these ideas are things that we have looked at in the laboratory and in post-event,” Institute Chief Engineer Anne Cope told the station. “So we’ve seen ‘ok this home had gravel and the embers landed, but they didn’t ignite the house.’”

Casey Taylor, who owns the home with the designation, said he took on the extra cost of the fire-prevention measures in hopes of providing an example to others on how to build back better — and he’s glad he did it.

“The effort was totally worth it,” Taylor said.

The Paradise town council is now working on an ordinance requiring new construction meet the designation, according to the report.

Insurance industry reps applauded the Wildfire-Prepared Home program, claiming that following the standards can not only help homeowners get insurance, but also make that insurance available at a more affordable price.

Caused by a malfunctioning PSE&G power line, the Camp Fire burned more than 150,000 acres, destroying over 18,000 buildings and killing 85 people.

[KCRA] — Vince DiMiceli

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