A nearly 100-year-old frame home survived the Lahaina fire. Owners aren’t sure why, but experts say this photo reveals important lessons for homeowners.

Image of an immaculate home surrounded by rubble

The house on Front Street in Lahaina stands amidst the rubble.Patrick T Fallon/Getty Images

  • The Wildfires on Maui that burned down lahaina shockingly, a wooden house with a red roof was spared.

  • A photo shows that the buildings on all sides of the house were destroyed.

  • Experts say gardening and adequate space may have come to the rescue as it is the best way to keep your home safe from wildfires.

The forest fires that happened maui Earlier this month, the historic town of Lahaina was devastated, with almost every building reduced to ash — but a frame house at the center of it all remained unharmed.

Experts say this red-roofed house offers a crucial lesson in wildfire protection.

“When we look at these images, we look at what is burned. We look at the cars and homes and neglect to look at what hasn't burned,” says Pat Durland, a former wildfire manager who is currently the wildfire containment consultant and board member of the nonprofit Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, told Insider . “There are the answers.”

Red house standing amid totally burned, ash-colored rubble of the surrounding houses, with three green arrows pointing to the red roof and the space around it

Two important things protected this house: space and the lack of combustible vegetation or other fuel for the fire around the house.Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty

The home's owners were shocked to find that it was still standing. They made no effort to fireproof their home, they told local news outlets.

“It looks like it's been photoshopped,” said homeowner Trip Millikin said the Honolulu Civil Beatand refers to what the red-roofed white house looks like now while surrounded by rubble. Even the car in the driveway looks unscathed.

But the Millikins made a couple of key decisions that resulted in this home “not meeting the requirements for an ignition,” Durland said. “It's not a miracle or luck.”

The good news is that many homeowners can do the same: keep at least 5 feet (1.5 m) perimeter around the home completely clear of dry or combustible vegetation or mulch, keep the roof and gutters clear, remove anything combustible underneath Porches and decks, etc. Install a non-combustible 1/8 inch mesh screen at all vents to a crawl space or attic.

This all helps ensure there is no fuel to ignite the embers as they make their way to your home.

“People think they're helpless,” Durland said. But that's not the case, he insisted: “Nine times out of ten, it boils down to words: gardening.”

The open, plant-free space surrounding this home may have saved it

According to Civil Beat, Trip Millikin and his wife, Dora Atwater Millikin, bought the Front Street home in 2021. The home, which once housed the executives of a local sugar plantation, is said to have been moved from the plantation to its current location in 1925, reports said the civil beat.

The house was pretty run down when the Millikins bought it, so they decided to renovate it and preserve a piece of Lahaina history, Civil Beat reported.

That decision may have saved everything they own.

Atwater Millikin said the Los Angeles Times that she doesn't quite understand why the house was spared, but she thinks it might have something to do with how they renovated it.

“It's a house that's 100% wood, so we didn't fireproof it or anything,” Atwater Millikin told the outlet.

But they made it more fire resistant, even if it was by accident. For one, Atwater Millikin said they placed stones around the house in place of the foliage.

“The first thing I see is space,” Durland said.

That's partly fortunate: the ocean protects her deck. There is a lot of space between them and the neighboring houses. But since there is no mulch or dry plants around their house, or branches too close to it, it means there is no fuel to spread the fire to the house itself.

“If shrubs and bushes, especially flammable ones, are right next to the house and get ignited by the embers, the heat can pop the window and go straight into the house from there,” says Susie Kocher, forest consultant for the University of California Cooperative Extension, co-author of a guide to retrofit homes to protect against wildfires, the Times said.

“People generally think it's a big wall of flame that sets houses on fire, but often embers are the trigger,” she added.

The transparent roof also helped

Atwater Millikin also said she and her husband replaced the asphalt roof with a metal roof.

“When all of this was happening, pieces of wood — 6.12 inches long — were on fire and almost floating through the air with the wind and everything,” Atwater Millikin told The Times. “They would hit people's roofs, and if it was an asphalt roof, it would catch fire. And otherwise they would fall off the roof and then set fire to the foliage around the house.”

An asphalt roof is actually no more combustible than metal, said Kocher and Durland. That would have been fine. But the fact that the Millikins' roof is free of debris certainly helped, they said.

“I felt guilty. We still feel guilty,” Trip Millikin told Civil Beat, adding that he and his wife plan to open the house to their neighbors who have lost their homes.

“Let's rebuild this together,” Millikin told Civil Beat. “This house will become a base for all of us. Let's use it.”

Check out the original article insider

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button