Vents:

Burning embers were blown through this vent screen and a fire started in the crawl space of this home.

Attic, eave and foundation vents are potential entry points for embers. All vent openings should be covered with 1/8-inch or smaller wire mesh. Another option is to install ember-resistant vents. Do not permanently cover vents, as they play a critical role in preventing wood rot.

Exterior Siding:

Stucco is a good choice for siding material.

Wood products (boards, panels and shingles) are common siding materials. However, they are combustible and not good choices for fire-prone areas. Noncombustible siding materials (stucco, brick, cement board and steel) are better choices. If using noncombustible siding materials is not feasible, keep siding in good condition and replace materials in poor condition.

Eaves:

The eaves are a vulnerable part of the home.

Embers can accumulate under open eaves and enter the attic through gaps in construction materials. Covering the underside of the eaves with a soffit, or boxing in the eaves, reduces the ember threat. Enclose eaves with fiber cement board or 5/8-inch-thick, high-grade plywood. If enclosing eaves is not possible, fill gaps under open eaves with caulk.

Open eaves on the left and boxed-in eaves pictured on the right.

Chimneys:

Chimney and stovepipe openings should be screened with an approved spark arrestor cap.

Rain Gutters:

Rain gutters filled with leaves and ignited by embers have been responsible for destroying homes.

Rain gutters trap flying embers. Always keep rain gutters free of leaves, needles and debris. Check and clean them several times during fire season.

Roof:

Homes with wood shake and shingle roofs are much more likely to be destroyed during wildfire.
Embers landed on pine needles left on this wood shake roof, easily igniting it.

Homes with wood-shake or shingle roofs are much more likely to be destroyed during a wildfire than homes with fire-resistant roofs. Consider replacing wood-shake or shingle roofs with a Class-A fire-resistant type (composition, metal or tile).

The only long term solution to reducing the wood shake and shingle hazard is replacing the roof with a fire resistant type.

Openings in roofing materials, such as the open ends of barrel tiles, should be plugged to prevent ember entry and debris accumulation. Regardless of the type of roof, keep it free of fallen leaves, needles and branches.

Firewood:

Stacking firewood next to the house is a bad idea. Burning embers from a nearby wildfire could ignite the stack.

Firewood stacks should be located at least 30 feet from the home. If the stacks are stored uphill from the house, make sure that burning firewood cannot roll downhill and ignite the home. Consider using an ember-resistant firewood cover.

Fortunately, this firewood stack was located far away from the house when it burned.

Flammable Items:

Keep the porch, deck and other areas of the home free of easily combustible materials (baskets, dried flower arrangements, newspapers, pine needles and debris).

This flammable item was ignited by embers during Carson City's Waterfall Fire, catching the house on fire.

Windows and Skylights:

The radiant heat from this wildfire was so intense, it broke the glass in these windows.

Windows are one of the weakest parts of a home and usually break before the structure ignites. This allows burning embers and heat to enter the home, which may lead to internal ignition. Single-pane windows and large windows are particularly vulnerable. In high fire-hazard areas, install windows that are at least double-glazed and that utilize tempered glass for the exterior pane. The type of window frame (wood, aluminum or vinyl) is not as critical. However, vinyl frames should have metal reinforcements. Keep skylights free of pine needles leaves and other debris, and remove overhanging branches. If skylights are to be placed on steep pitched roofs that face large amounts of nearby fuels (a mature pine tree or another house), consider using flat ones constructed of double-pane glass.

Decks:

Decks can trap the heat of an oncoming wildfire.

Decks using wood and wood-plastic materials are often combustible. Keep all deck materials in good condition. As an option, consider using fire-resistant-rated materials.

The underside of decks should be enclosed.

Routinely remove combustible debris (pine needles, leaves, twigs and weeds) from the gaps between deck boards and under the deck. Enclosing the sides of the deck may reduce this type of maintenance. Do not store combustible materials under the deck.