Wildfires are a threat to many communities across North America. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, there have been 33,852 fires in the U.S. so far this year, which have burned a total of 3,478,169 acres to date. The annual economic losses from wildfires in the U.S. has averaged $1.3 billion since 2000.
August through September are considered the height of the fire season with ten states reporting large fires. California currently has seven major fires, Wyoming eight and Idaho five. And, while it may seem that wildfires are only common on the West Coast, wildfires occur in many areas of the United States.
A wildfire is an unplanned, unwanted fire that starts in an undeveloped area. Forest fires can become a ‘firestorm’ which is a deadly mix of unending fuel supply and thermally-induced high winds. These fires can approach inhabited areas with the speed and power of a locomotive. Sheer winds uproot trees, fences and roofs with unnatural ease. Anyone who’s experienced a wildfire can tell you it’s not something they’d like to repeat.
California homeowner Susan Lord explains, “In November, 2008, a wildfire went through our neighborhood. Our house was a total loss. That’s why we decided to install a metal roof when we rebuilt.” See more from Susan in this short video:
Metal roofs are naturally very tough and highly resistant to fire damage. Fire will not penetrate a metal roof. Metal roofing materials interlock, forming a protective barrier that other roofing materials do not provide.
Most forest fires decimate residential communities through burning pine needles and other debris blown from roof to roof. More conventional roofs, such as asphalt, catch fire relatively easily and the home is at danger of burning to the ground. A metal roof is not combustible, so it doesn’t provide additional fuel for the fire. That’s why many fire chiefs recommend a metal roof. Here’s another clue – you’ll notice that a lot of fire stations have metal roofs.
In addition to installing a metal roof, homeowners in wildfire-prone areas can create a defensible space around their home, clearing all potential wildfire fuel from within 100 feet of a structure is critical for fire prevention. For example, if you have a wood pile, move it away from your home. In addition, homeowners should clean gutters and roof of debris that can ignite. You can also design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.
To download a checklist of steps to take to protect your home, download this checklist created by FEMA. Visit the following websites for more information: