In 1994, a man building a new home for his family in the Redding, California area believed that one day he would see a wildfire. During construction, he paid close attention to the home’s design and materials and over the years, took mitigation actions to make his home resilient to wildfire.
Twenty-four years later, the wildfire that this homeowner prepared for — the Carr Fire — destroyed over 1,500 structures. Seventeen of his neighbors lost their homes but his house remained standing, unharmed. What made the difference? Wildfire mitigation.
Some of the wildfire mitigation measures he took during construction and maintained over the years to make his home fire-resilient included:
- A well-maintained, simple Class A metal roof.
- A non-combustible zone (3-5 feet wide) around the outside of the home that helped prevent embers landing in close-by vegetation.
- Pruned trees and low-growing cactus and succulents.
- Boxed-in or soffited eaves with venting located at the outside edge. This makes ember intrusion more difficult.
- Well-maintained stucco siding.
- Accessible water and hoses labeled with reflective signs for firefighters.
Fire resilience is about understanding and recognizing the vulnerabilities of your home and landscape and making modifications so that the home and landscape are complementary to each other.— Yana Valachovic, County Director and Forest Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension
For more recent examples of wildfire mitigation work that you can promote to homeowners in your community, read the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network blog.
Engaging homeowners in wildfire risk mitigation: Which approaches work best?
See also: Wildland Urban Interface toolkit — Planning