Living With Fire Tip # 3: Shake It Off
The most reliable way to predict which houses will survive a wildfire and which will be destroyed is by looking at their roofs.
Houses with wood shake or shingle roofs are many times more likely to burn during a wildfire. "Using wood shakes and shingles for roofs in high fire hazard areas is like stacking hundreds of pounds of kindling on top of your home," said Ed Smith, natural resource specialist, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. "During the hot summer months, the shakes and shingles can be bone dry and easily ignited by firebrands." According to Smith, firebrands are pieces of burning material that can be lofted high into the air during a wildfire and travel as far as a mile from the actual fire.
Unfortunately, there is no effective, inexpensive long-term solution to the wood roof hazard. Smith recommends replacing wood shake or shingle roofs with rated, fire-resistant roofing materials, such as composition shingles, metal, and tile. Although this can be expensive, it may well be the one thing that saves your home when a wildfire approaches.
Living With Fire is an interagency program coordinated by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.