New California laws build on research into wildfire-resistant construction

Pat Avila knows firsthand how important fire-resistant construction is to her living space.

In Sonoma County’s devastating Tubbs Fire of 2017, the longtime real estate agent’s residential complex with 46 homes in the Fountaingrove neighborhood burned down when embers penetrated the attic during the high winds.

“Before we had a tile roof, the house collapsed when fire went into the attic. I grabbed my computer, purse and makeup,” she recalled when her neighbor called and she evacuated at 1:10 a.m., as if it happened yesterday.

But like a Phoenix rising in the ashes, The Oaks at Fountaingrove development on Kilarney Circle in Santa Rosa is being rebuilt with many state-of-the-art, value-added features and retrofits designed to ward off future fire threats.

At the direction of the homeowners association, builder John Farrow mandated the homes being rebuilt after Tubbs include these features:

  • Metal roof and framing
  • Vents removed from the attic
  • Fire-resistant spray foam as insulation in the walls
  • Concrete slab in the bottom crawl space
  • Three-coated, stucco wall finish
  • Garage door opener battery backup
  • Automatic fire sprinkler system
  • Fire-tolerant landscaping
  • Tempered windows to avert massive heat
  • TimberTech decks meeting class A requirements — which refers to a National Fire Protection Association standard.

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