California wildfires in September and October 2017 burned more than 245,000 acres and destroyed and damaged more than 8,700 homes, businesses and properties.
“To this date, it is recorded as the most devastating ever in the state. The attention turns now to the residents who lost or suffered damage to their property,” said Jerry Davies, Chair of the California Fire Safe Council.
According to Janet Ruiz, California Representative of the Insurance Information Institute (III), the debris removal in hardest hit Santa Rosa and other areas has begun. Governor Jerry Brown has authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove visible hazardous debris from wildfire-burned homes, such as batteries, flammable liquids, asbestos siding, paint, and pipe insulation. Rebuilding will probably begin in the spring of 2018 and take several years.
“Insurance companies are now working with their policyholders in all of the areas devastated by the fires,” Ruiz said. “We are urging all who have losses to work closely with their insurance companies and agents to help with the claims process.”
“As rebuilding begins and others proceed with upgrades to make their homes and businesses safer, we urge the use of an ember-resistant design with proven, noncombustible or fire-resistant materials,” said Steve Quarles, chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.
“Install the materials with an eye toward maintaining an effective mandated 100 foot defensible space on the property,” he said. “A best practice is a five-foot noncombustible zone around the house, using, for example, rock mulch, a decorative ground cover made of natural, noncombustible stone vs. shredded or chipped wood mulch material.”
Quarles added, “A six-inch vertical separation between the ground and the start of the siding can reduce the risk of an ember ignition. A Class A fire-rated roof covering that is designed and installed to minimize the likelihood of ignition from embers where the roof meets other parts of the home, such as at a dormer, is a smart decision. We also recommend multi-pane tempered glass windows and 1/8-inch mesh covering on all vents to reduce ember intrusion.”
For further information on reducing wildfire damage to homes and especially roofs, go to www.IBHS.Org.
For further information on the California Fire Safe Council and a list of all local Fire Safe Councils in California, visit www.cafiresafecouncil.org.