More than 1,000 structures and 260,000 acres across Southern California have been charred since massive wildfires broke out earlier this month. With the blazes still threatening 25,000 more homes, is there anything homeowners can do to protect their houses from a fire? You may not be able to fireproof a home completely, but building experts say there are several measures homeowners can take to lower the risks of sustaining damage. Realtor.com® offers these tips:
Take extreme caution with eucalyptus trees. The oil in eucalyptus trees—which are common in Southern California—is highly flammable and can cause the trees to explode when on fire, warns Los Angeles real estate developer Tyler Drew. He says homeowners should remove these and other large trees near a home’s structure to help prevent fires from spreading to the house.
Keep your yard clear of brush. Bushes, shrubs, dead branches, and vegetation near a home can be dangerous in a wildfire. “Clear brush away from your home, especially if you live in the hills or mountains,” Drew says. “At least 20 yards of brush clearance is what is recommended by most firefighters.”
Reinforce susceptible materials in a home. A house made of wood is more prone to catching fire than homes made from other materials, such as brick, cement block, stone, and ceramic tile, Drew says. “Stucco can work,” he notes, “but the wood beams behind stucco can still catch on fire if the wildfire burns close enough to your home.”
Replace the roof. Certain roofs are more resistant to falling embers and ash than others. “Tile and composite roofing shingles are a must these days, but some homes still use wooden shingles,” Drew says.