USA: Analysis - Safety rules give homes better chance in wildfires
By Dale Kasler and Phillip Reese
A landmark 2008 building code designed for California’s fire-prone regions— requiring fire-resistant roofs, siding and other safeguards — appears to have protected the Carrells’ home and dozens of others like it from the Camp Fire. That year marks a pivotal moment in the state’s deadly and expensive history of destructive natural disasters.
All told, about 51 percent of the 350 single-family homes built after 2008 in the path of the Camp Fire were undamaged, according to McClatchy’s analysis of Cal Fire data and Butte County property records. By contrast, only 18 percent of the 12,100 homes built prior to 2008 escaped damage. Those figures don’t include mobile homes, which burned in nearly equal measure regardless of age.
“These are great standards; they work,” said senior engineer Robert Raymer of the California Building Industry Association, who consulted with state officials on the building code.
Yet despite this lesson, California may end up falling short in its effort to protect homes from the next wildfire.
Mushrooming cities such as Folsom, where an 11,000-home development is springing up, have the ability to bypass the state’s safety standards in spite of considerable fire risks.