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How to Protect Your Home from Wildfire Damage

Wildfires can have devastating consequences for both people and the environment. They tend to spread quickly, destroying homes and businesses in their wake. Last year in the U.S., nearly 70,000 wildfires burned 7.6 million acres.

May is National Wildfire Awareness Month, dedicated to prevention and preparedness. Although wildfire risks vary by state, the responsibility to be aware of and prepared for wildfire belongs to us all.

To mitigate the effects of wildfires, be prepared with a plan in place. Take steps to protect yourself and your property from potential damage. Being informed and proactive about wildfire preparedness can help ensure your family is safe during an emergency.


Wildfires are unplanned fires caused by lightning, human activities such as arson, or debris burning. They can escalate and spread due to a combination of factors, including high temperatures, dry conditions, windy weather and human activities.

As the weather warms, the 'fuel' of wildfire – wildland vegetation – begins to dry out. Warm, dry conditions signal it is time to plan for wildfire.


According to the National Interagency Fire Center, embers cause most home ignitions during a wildfire. Additionally, soot and ash from nearby flames can damage your home, especially if left untreated.

You should complete a few everyday tasks to prepare your home against a dangerous blaze and keep your family safe.

  • Ensure your roof is fire-resistant, as it is especially vulnerable to fire. The roof is often the most susceptible to fire. If you have a cedar shake roof, you should prioritize its replacement with a more fire-resistant material as soon as possible. Metal and tile are the most fire-resistant options, but any Class A roof will be sufficient.

  • Make sure your deck is fire-resistant with thick materials and completely enclosed. Decks should be constructed with boards at least two inches thick or using fire-resistant materials. The less space between the deck and the ground, the better. Enclose any openings under the deck so embers cannot drift underneath.

  • Clear safety zones around the home, making it less likely for anything to catch a spark. The space around your home should be free of vegetation and other combustibles like wood piles or dried leaves. The NFPA designates three home ignition zones to be aware of and clear. The zones include:

                      1. Immediate Zone - 0 to 5 feet around the house

                      2. Intermediate Zone - 5 to 30 feet

                      3. Extended Zone - 30 to 100 feet

Clearing a zone up to 100 feet from your home can add another layer of wildfire protection. Reduce or replace flammable vegetation with fire-resistant vegetation as much as possible in these zones.

  • Clear out gutters of twigs and leaves. Wildfires spread quickly, and having twigs or leaves in your gutter provides the perfect fuel for the fire to spread rapidly and close to your home's walls.

  • Replace single-pane windows for more heat protection. Fire can heat windows and ignite drapes and other materials inside. To help prevent this, you should replace single-pane windows with dual-pane or even triple-pane windows. Adding fire-resistant shutters can also help keep your interior protected.


  • Be prepared for emergency responders. Ensure your home has a clearly marked house number in case you need to call for help.

  • Create a wildfire evacuation plan and walk through it with your family. Make a family emergency plan that walks every family member through what they must do if a wildfire gets near your home. This plan should include possible escape routes and meeting points. Practice your plan until everyone feels comfortable with what they should do if a wildfire is imminent.

  • Put together an emergency supply kit with all the essentials you'll need to evacuate. This kit should contain items such as a first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, flashlights, and other essential items to help you survive an evacuation.

  • Take photos and videos of your home to create an inventory if you need to make an insurance claim later. The more information you can provide about your belongings, the faster and more efficiently a claim can be processed.


After the wildfire is out and you can safely re-enter your home, start by making some phone calls. Two of the first calls you should make are:

          1. To your insurance agent to begin the claims process if necessary.

          2. To a trusted fire restoration professional to assess the damage and quickly begin damage remediation.

In addition to items potentially melted and ruined by the flames themselves, there are other adverse effects of wildfire damage. Ash and smoke, if left unhindered, can cause extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration, not to mention lingering powerful odors. Professionals such as ServiceMaster DSI must be brought to the site as soon as possible to halt the ongoing issues that ash residue can cause.

The first thing that ash does is discolor most surfaces. Anything made of plastic or close to the fire will start discoloring within minutes, and fiberglass and finishes on appliances will begin to yellow within several hours. Metals may also tarnish. After a few days, the ash will cause walls and upholstery to discolor permanently. Wood and vinyl must be refinished or replaced, and metal will start corroding.

Wildfire damage is one clean-up project that is best left to the professionals. The complexities of synthetic materials combined with the high heat of a fire, smoke and ash create a volatile environment where further damage can occur if clean-up is handled improperly. Metals may need to be replaced, the carpet may be permanently discolored, and glass may be severely etched, which will require replacement.

The longer it takes to hire experts, the more destruction fire ash will cause.

For more information or to request wildfire damage restoration and home reconstruction, contact ServiceMaster DSI today at 844-413-3130.