State law already requires homeowners to create a 100-foot defensible space around their homes, clearing out any brush or other flammable materials. But some experts say that’s just the first step. Steve Quarles has studied fire vulnerability in urban-wildland areas for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
“In order for your home to survive wildfire you need to consider both the defensible space and also the materials and design that go into your home.”
He says homes in rural areas should be constructed with non-combustible building materials, like lumber treated with fire retardants and windows with tempered glass…as well vents for attics and crawl spaces that can resist the intrusion of flames and embers.
“We’re learning a lot about the importance of embers in terms of spreading fire. We sort of understood that with regard to forest fires. But we’re also learning that they can result in the ignition of your home.”
Quarles says flames and embers can leapfrog through neighborhoods, leaving some homes unscathed alongside others reduced to rubble. But he says many of the homes that will be rebuilt in Auburn will be much safer. That’s because California adopted changes to the building code last year that require homebuilders to use materials better able to resist wildfire.