Many people believe that wildfires ignite homes by the direct contact of flames on flammable surfaces. But it is rare to have a home ignite this way. Recent research from Jack Cohen, Research Physical Scientist with the USDA Forest Service, suggests that more commonly, homes ignite either by being preheated by an approaching wildfire to the point of combustion, or more commonly, from air-borne flaming brands and embers commonly called “red snow.” Watch the video of Jack Cohen’s experiments
Flaming Brands & Embers
Flaming brands and embers can travel as far as five miles ahead of the active front of a wildfire and recent research has shown that up to 60% of wildland/urban interface home ignitions are from “red snow” landing on flammable roofs or in other flammable objects, which in turn ignites the home.
Protecting Your Home
Homes that are not vulnerable to ignition will likely not burn in a wildfire. Most of the activity that makes a home less vulnerable to ignition addresses the home and its immediate surroundings out to 100 feet. There are many things you can do to decrease your home ignition potential, many of which costs little money and can be done in a weekend.