The Fire-Resistant Home

March 7, 2019
As climate change increases wildfire risk and intensity globally, researchers are working to make homes fire-resistant. In two of California's wildfires last year, nearly 14,000 homes were razed to the ground.
Photo: Unsplash/Yaoqi Lai

As climate change increases wildfire risk and intensity globally, researchers are working to make homes fire-resistant. In two of California's wildfires last year, nearly 14,000 homes were razed to the ground.

In addition, wildfire damage to commercial and residential property in California last year was nearly $19 billion, per CoreLogic data. Nationally, wildfires devastated more U.S. homes last year than at any other point in recorded history, CNBC reports, and the eight most destructive years for wildfires in the country have been in the past 13 years. Roy Wright, CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety says, "There is no reason to think they are going to get better," adding, "You look at this kind of impact — the variations in the climate we have had, we are far more susceptible to the size and intensity of fires."

But it is not just California. Wright points to increasingly intense wildfires recently in Colorado, Texas, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina. All of those states have huge homebuilding industries.

"This work that we do here in the lab, this is real. I think all too often, we can watch something on TV, we can listen to it and go, 'That's interesting, but it won't happen to me.' But it does. It invades a family's life," said Wright. Wright is a former FEMA official and native Californian. His parents lost their home in California's Camp fire last year, the worst in the state's history.

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