Most homes that burn during a wildfire aren't ignited by dry brush. They are set on fire by embers landing on the roof, through vents or on decks and porches. As fire continues to rage in Ventura, Sylmar, Santa Clarita and Bel Air, Take Two spoke with Tom Welle of the National Fire Protection Association about how to make a house more ignition resistant.
1. The most important thing to secure is your roof
"The roof can sometimes be the most vulnerable because it's a huge surface area. If you have a Class A roof — a metal roof or an asphalt roof — you should be good there. The most dangerous are those wood shingles. You can always check with your local building inspector to see if yours is up to date."
2. Metal mesh on vents
"We recommend that you have 1/8th inch of metal screening over vents — that will prevent embers that might enter the building. The mesh has to be metal. Plastics or other synthetic materials might melt and catch fire."
3. For windows, go with tempered glass
"Normally windows fail because you got a lot of heat on the full pane of the glass. The glass might shatter and you get heat directly coming into the house. Double-pane glasses will protect the inner one to some degree. Tempered glass material will prevent glasses from fully breaking."
4. Clearing vegetation protects walls
"The most important thing with walls is getting combustible materials at least 5 feet away. Pay special attention to mulch — those around the house will catch little fire, and that will grow."
5. Is your patio furniture flammable?
"Wooden decks and wooden furniture are especially vulnerable. You could build your deck with ignition-resistant materials. They last longer and take less maintenance than wooden ones. Also important is what's above and underneath the deck. If you have combustible cushions, get them out of there before you evacuate. In addition, separating the fence from the wall can make all the difference."
For bonus reinforcement, check out our chat about "firescaping," which explores how to create fire-resistant landscapes.