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Be Ember Aware Tip #1

Posted 4/28/2009

This is the first in an ongoing series of tips for homeowners living in fire-prone areas. Each week, Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Specialist Ed Smith will be providing Be Ember Aware tips for homeowners who want to reduce the risk of losing their home to embers created from wildfires. Nevada has more than 250 communities that face a wildfire threat, and 68 communities are at extreme and high risk. For more information on protecting your home from wildfires, visit

Wood shake roofs increase home’s fire risk

Metal, composition shingles and tiles are more resistant

By Ed Smith, natural resource specialist

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

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. During the hot summer months, the shakes and shingles can be bone dry and easily ignited by embers. The embers come from 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. They can also be carried long distances by the wind.

Unfortunately, there is no effective, inexpensive long-term solution to the ember threat to wood roofs. We recommend 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 the embers arrive.

To learn more about protecting your home from the ember threat, visit and request a free copy of our new publication, Be Ember Aware!, download it here or contact Ed Smith. Be Ember Aware is a component of the Living With Fire program, an interagency program coordinated by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

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