wildfires - Will neighborhood design make difference2

Wildfires are becoming more powerful and more frequent. How can we cut the damage they cause? Will neighborhood design make difference?

California wildfires

In areas like California, wildfires play a significant role in the ecosystem. Wildfires will occur, we cannot change that! And when they happen, these fires cause significant property damage and even deaths. They are also a threat to the edges of towns and cities as they move through the dry vegetation.

For instance, a wildfire destroyed 771 thousand acres of unpopulated land in California. This is according to a report by Cal Fire. Cal Fire is a firefighting agency in the state. The same week, another fire destroyed about 600 thousand acres in the central and northern regions. These are most affected areas by these fires.

Some of these blazes now sit among the 10 largest wildfires the state has ever recorded. Plus, we might experience larger ones in the future. Especially considering that they’re becoming more powerful and more frequent. Therefore, we must come up with solutions that will help us cut wildfire damages.

Will better design protect houses near the wild areas from burning? How can we cut the damage these wildfire cause? Every designer and contractor in fire-prone areas must consider these issues!

In House Design Small Details Matter a Lot

As it turns out that, when designing a house, small details matter a lot. The wildfire may be far away. Yet, when the wind carries an ember and lands it on a house, it will burn it. So, let’s say the roofing material is clay or metal instead of wooden shingles. In this case, the flaming ember is not likely to burn, right? Also, consider using paving stones in the deck instead of wood. Moreover, design the gutter in a way that allows it to drop pine needles. This is because, when pine needles dry out, they act as tinder. If the house cannot ignite, it will not spread the fire to the remaining block. Always remember that!

The house design and land topography in rural areas can also determine its survival. In Sonoma County, a new house survived the devastating 2017 fires. In that scenario, the fire almost got to the house. Luckily, the architects designed stone walkways. This protected the house from the burning grass around it.

A house cannot be fireproof, since that can either be undesirable or impossible. Instead, people prefer natural and comfortable homes. Nobody would want to live in a fireproof concrete bunker.

What Do We Offer?

InnoDez Design and Engineering adopts the same approach. Our designs guarantee increased resilience while promoting a connection to the natural environment. The designers create partly natural houses. Yet, they consider every opportunity that will protect it from potential ember ignition. Not to forget that they also consider the house placement. For instance, placing a house near an irrigation field will protect it from wildfires.

Some houses can be like fortresses. In Australia, a firefighter’s house in the eucalyptus forest has concrete and metal walls. This design ensures that the houses last for long during extreme bushfires. Furthermore, they have metal screens that slide down over the glass doors. Thus protecting the glass from the heat caused by the fire. As if that’s not enough, the walls have a fireproof fabric lining, like firefighting gear.

GigaCrete, a manufacturer based in Las Vegas, designed a prefab house, the Gigahouse. The design includes fire-resistant, super-insulated walls, and a steel framing structure. A typical house has approximately 93 percent of combustible materials.

Neighborhood Design Can Make The Difference

The neighborhood design can also make a difference. In sparse areas, this might mean spacing homes far apart. This will protect the neighboring houses from igniting when one house burns. For new developments, this might mean putting a green field between dry native fields. This will prevent the fire from reaching the houses. However, irrigation fields can cause other challenges in areas struggling with drought.

Several factors influence the impact of a fire disaster. Sometimes, power lines spark these fires. So, while burying electricity lines underground would be costly, it would help. Also, severe natural wildfires fill forests with even more deadwood. As a result, fires worsen when they happen again.

Location, An Important Factor!

Location is another important factor. Some flood zones are becoming unsuitable for reconstructing, right? Likewise, some areas that are prone to bushfires may not the ideal places to construct new houses.

Nonetheless, most communities are already living in risky places. Moreover, climate change is leading to more heatwaves and drought. So, the risk of wildfires is increasing in areas that people have occupied for decades. In 2017, no one had foreseen Santa Rosa burn. Or even Ventura in Southern California.

Fires are becoming more disastrous. Destruction of over 5,600 properties and 22 deaths occurred from the Tubbs wildfire. It was the worst wildfire ever seen in California, until the Paradise Camp Fire. This fire destroyed over 6,400 homes. Over two hundred residents are still missing!

Fire destruction is, in some instances, unavoidable. Yet, changing the design may help to avoid those destructions to some extent. Thus, it is something every fire-prone community should consider. Due to climate change, we are likely to experience these kinds of disasters over and over again. So, it is something the public and architects should think about!

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