How To Protect Your Log Home From Wildfires!

Published on | Log Homes |Josh Horner

The mere thought to losing one’s home to a wildfire is disturbing to say the least. According to National Geographic, on average, more than 100,000 wildfires claim 4 to 5-million acres of land in the United States each year; and 4 out of 5 wildfires are started by people! Wildfires can travel at 14 miles per hour; and everything in the fire’s path is fair game. The good news is proactive steps can be taken to minimize your chances of losing your log-home to a merciless forest-fire, allowing you and your family to breathe a little easier.

Select Roofing Materials that Resist the Flames:

Using fire-retardant roofing materials is a big step in the right direction! Treating existing wood shingles or shakes with fire-retardant products is a good start and can produce a high-degree of protection from fires; the only downside to topical applications is the fact that long-term protection can’t be guaranteed. Because of this, re-treating the roof would be required on a scheduled basis. Eliminating a wood roof and replacing it with much safer materials may be expensive and sound extreme, but it’s certainly an option for enhanced protection.

If you are replacing a roof or are building a new log-home, utilize fire-resistant materials such as Class-A asphalt shingles (Class-A provides the greatest fire-resistance), metal, cement/concrete materials or terra-cotta tiles. The fire rating of a roof-covering is Class A, Class B, Class C or Unrated. An Unrated roof material is the most vulnerable during a fire or an approaching fire; and untreated wood shakes or shingles fall into the unrated category.

Choose Fire-Resistant Windows:

The type of windows you include in your log-home can have a dramatic impact on how well they will fare if a fire were to ensue. Choose window products that will slow down the damaging effects of fire; and keep in mind that single-pane windows will shatter far more quickly than double-pane windows that have a cushion of air between both panels of glass. Also, tempered glass is a safer choice than plate glass. Tempered glass is created with surface compression of at least 10,000 pounds per square inch which makes the glass up to five times stronger than non-tempered glass.

Additionally, safety glazing is incorporated with fully-tempered glass which means when tempered glass might finally break it fractures into comparatively smaller pieces than regular glass, reducing the possibility of more-serious injuries. This is why large picture windows, especially, should be made from fully-tempered glass materials.

Keep Gutters Constantly Cleared:

Gutters, eaves and roof areas that become filled with dry debris can act as a fuel source for a fire which is why keeping these areas continually cleared of leaves, pine cones and pine needles is crucial.

Keep Fences Unattached to Your Home:

Like gutter debris, fences would act as a fuel source for any fire. For this reason, it is prudent to never attach any wood fence to your home such as fencing off a backyard, for example.

Clear Debris Away From Under Decks:

Storing anything flammable under or around a deck is only asking for trouble; and this would include firewood! It only makes sense that firewood close to your log-home would be exactly what a fire need to keep it raging! Because of that, firewood should be stored in a sealed crib or entirely away from the home. Clear all debris out from under your porch or deck, free of anything that would feed a fire

Create a No-Fire Zone:

It’s quite astounding how thoroughly one can lessen the chances of one’s home being engulfed in flames by following some simple, common-sense practices.

1: Any dry, lifeless vegetation should be completely removed from the area around your home. If you have vegetation that is dense, and in close proximity to your home, it should be cleared away from your home by a minimum of 200 feet.   There should always be at least 5 feet of empty space surrounding your home of anything that will quickly burn.

2: Several tree types that should never be planted close to your residence are pine trees, conifers, evergreens, firs, eucalyptus and junipers since they are inherently very flammable.

3: Instead of using bark and chip mulch for flower gardens or walkways, use rock mulch instead. It is more fire-resistant, obviously, than its fire-feeding counterparts.

4: Trim tree branches at least 10 feet from the ground. During a fire, lower branches act as ‘stepping stones’ for the fire to more quickly engulf a tree. Also, prune tall tress so the crowns do not meet, otherwise, a fire simply leaps from one tree to the next.

5: Keep your lawn well-watered because it can serve as a fire-break. With water restrictions in some states such as California, however, replacing a yard with rock gardens and drought-tolerant plants is a wise choice. Select high-moisture plants that grow close to the ground and have a low-sap or resin content. A few fire-resistant plant species include rockrose, iceplant and aloe—they actually resist ignition! Fire-resistant shrubs include hedging roses, bush honeysuckles, currant, cotoneaster, sumac and shrub apples.

6: Plant hardwood trees around your home. According to Jack Cohen, a research fire scientist with the U.S. Forest Service, hardwood trees can literally act as a fire shield. He states: “Hardwoods do not support high-intensity fires. They can become a very, very good radiation barrier!”  You can contact your county extension office or local landscape contractor for professional advice on fire-resistant plants that are particularly suited for your neck of the woods.

Making sure your log-home is optimally protected from wildfires is an on-going process—never let down your guard! Be proactive and read up on additional information that can provide crucial insight on how to keep flames at bay. In 2010, the Fourmile Fire near Boulder, Colorado claimed almost 170 homes during the first few days of the inferno! According to Jack Cohen, some of the homes that were spared this tragedy had been properly and proactively readied. Fire-resistant materials had been incorporated into the homes’ construction; materials and spaces in and around the saved homes were fuel-minimized.

When it comes to wildfires, you can do a lot to help save your beautiful log-home!