Benefiting from conscientious and deliberate “firescaping”, FSC affiliate John Blackburn designed ranch survives a wildfire.

With this year’s horror stories about the wildfires across the southwest and California, it is nice to hear a good outcome on occasion. FSC affiliate Blackburn Architects received such an email from one of its clients.

The message notified them that the family’s ranch, designed by Blackburn Architects, PC, found itself in the middle of the Seven Fire, a wildfire that blew through the foothills of the Sierra Mountains on July 10th.

Luckily, the wild fire was first spotted by a plane that was helping fight another fire in the area. According to authorities, the fire destroyed over 800 acres in a very short period of time. Though the entire area around the property was consumed by the fire, the building survived the conflagration due to the defensible space fire protective measures installed during construction.

Defensible space fire protection measures, also known as “firescaping,” are fire control methods instituted in the California code that focuses on the landscaping around a building. The concept targets the area within 100 feet of a structure and emphasizes fuel reduction by specifying appropriate spacing and separation of plant types. Plant selection, segregation, and spacing all play a major role in preventing the spread of fire between different types of vegetation and reducing its ability to reach the structure.

Although the design and installation of the measures tend to add to the initial cost of construction, they have been proven to work. Not only does this help save lives, but it also helps prevent rising insurance costs in the country’s fire prone areas.


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