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How to Safeguard Your House from Wildfires

Ask This Old House host Kevin O’Connor learns about ways to make a home more resistant to wildfires.

In general, houses that are destroyed by wildfires catch on fire because embers reach combustible materials that are too close to the house. Once the combustible materials ignite, they can catch the rest of the house on fire.

To prevent the house from catching on fire, it’s important to keep combustible materials as far away from the house as possible.

How to Make Your Home Safe from Wildfires

  1. One way to do that is by building a house with noncombustible materials. On the roof, use shingles that have been given a Class A rating, meaning they can withstand fire for two hours or more before burning through to the sheathing. For siding, consider using brick, stucco, block, or fiber cement board.
  2. It’s also important to keep the house and surrounding area clear of combustibles. Remove leaves from gutters, keep debris off the roof, and keep your surrounding property clear from combustible materials that could easily spread to the house.
  3. The also applies to landscaping. Do not plant anything 0-5 feet from the house. Instead, consider laying a bed of crushed stone or rock mulch.
  4. If you want to plant anything 5-30 feet from the house, keep the plants lower to the ground and spread apart in a way that the fire can’t jump from plant to plant.
  5. Beyond 30 feet, consider keeping tall trees trimmed so that it’s harder for them to catch fire as well.

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Kevin learned that choosing and maintaining a house with non-combustible building materials can help prevent the embers of a wildfire from burning a house down.

The fiber cement boards that Kevin saw are Hardieplank Lap Siding in Pearl Gray, which is manufactured by JamesHardie. The roof shingles with a Class A rating can be found at home centers. Rock mulch can be found at home centers and nurseries.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.