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29 Nov 2019: L.A. Times: "California will never control raging wildfires if it doesn’t stop building in high-risk areas"

posted Dec 1, 2019, 1:53 PM by Ryan Ulyate
 This editorial was published in the November 29th edition of the L.A. Times. Within the editorial there is a link to a study titled "Factors Associated with Structure Loss in the 2013–2018 California Wildfires". The bottom line is that structure hardening can save many more homes. 

From the editorial: "The first and most obvious step is to retrofit homes in high-risk areas to make them more resistant to fire. Researchers analyzed some 40,000 buildings exposed to wildfires between 2013 and 2018. They found that homes built to keep out embers and withstand extreme heat were much more likely to survive. Yet so far, the state has done little to require home hardening or to fund it. The needed retrofits aren’t very expensive. Homeowners should cover their vents with fine wire mesh and enclose their eaves to prevent embers from getting inside the structure. Double-paned windows are less likely to shatter in high heat, and steel shutters can help too. Properties also need regular inspections to make sure they are prepared for fire season. Are there gaps in roof tiles that might allow embers into the attic? Are the gutters full of dry leaves and twigs? Do the residents know to shut the doggie door when they evacuate?

Earlier this year, Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) proposed creating a billion-dollar revolving loan fund to help homeowners pay for retrofits and to remove flammable vegetation near their homes. The funding was cut from the bill.Next year, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers should invest that $1 billion — or more — to help people in high-risk areas make their homes more fire resistant. But it’s not enough to have individual homeowners voluntarily harden their houses if neighboring properties are tinder boxes. Fire is contagious. The greatest protection comes when entire neighborhoods are hardened together and maintained together. Whatever legislation is passed should reflect that."