As Paradise Rebuilds, Residents Wonder How Much to Spend on Fire Resilience?

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | November 22, 2019
burning-match natural disaster wildfire
Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash

It’s been one year since the town of Paradise, Calif., was devastated by wildfire. A dozen houses have been rebuilt, a few hundred more have plans underway to rebuild, and businesses are reopening.
 
A big question that residents face is: how many fire safety measure can they afford?

City council members received input from the community to assess potential code changes that went above and beyond the state standards for homes in the wildland-urban interface. The state standards require fire-resistant roofing and siding, double-pane windows and sprinkler systems in all new homes. But most of the houses that met those codes still burned in the Paradise fire.
 
Some proposed ordinances such as one that would have required manufactured homes to have sprinklers and permanent foundations, which are less combustible but cost more, were deemed too expensive to enact. One measure more likely to be passed would require a five-foot buffer be maintained between a home and any combustible materials, such as mulch and flammable plants, as well as non-pressure-treated decks and wooden fences.

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