Fire season in California
photo credit: Cal Fire
With rains enlarging standing pools on a soggy landscape, an out of control wildfire tearing into neighborhoods seems impossible. In just a few months, that won't be the case. 
With time still available to prepare, state fire prevention officials Monday detailed ways to reduce the chance a home will be lost to fire. 
Dennis O'Neil, assistant fire chief with Cal Fire's official defensible space program said there is a main culprit. 
"We know, 60-90 percent of houses that burnt down, it's because of embers, and so, we always recommend that that be on the top of your list."
Any cracks or voids will welcome burning embers
photo credit: Cal Fire
Fairly technical, the presentation zeros in on some obvious and not so obvious potential entryways for embers, and what to use to seal them. 
"Caulk and plug gaps greater than 1/8th of an inch around exposed rafters and blocking to prevent ember intrusion into the attic or other enclosed spaces. That is a pretty typical spot for embers to get into."
Wooden fences and decks are other vulnerabilities. O'Neil urged replacing the six feet of fence nearest a home with a metal chain link fence, with metal slats for privacy. Half a foot of metal flashing where a deck meets a home, could give the house a fighting chance during a blaze.
O'Neil also pitched for homeowners to assure tight seals at the bottom of garage doors.
"All those openings, where if you have wind and embers, those embers can easily get in between those cracks and get into your garage where most people have a lot of flammable materials."
Siding is another, and expensive issue, but O'Neil said there's a way around that, sort of. He recommends replacing the lowest six inches to two feet with more fire-resistant materials, as that's the most vulnerable area.
Metal mesh gutter guards are also of high importance, O'Neil said.
"If you have debris in your gutter and it catches on fire either by embers or direct flame, it can impinge upon your roof covering and start your roof on fire."
You can learn more and watch other instructional videos on the State Fire Marshal's public fire education webpage here.
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