Viral Red House Survived Maui Wildfires Thanks to These Small Details
The owner of a red-roofed house in Maui that went viral for remaining untouched by the historic wildfires has revealed the small, unexpected details that she thinks helped it survive.
Stunning aerial images of the unscathed property went viral last week, sparking wild conspiracy theories that the local devastation was a targeted laser attack from space.
However, owner Dora Atwater Millikin says the house’s survival was due to a few simple changes she and her husband made during a recent renovation.
One key decision was to replace the asphalt roof with one made out of heavy-gauge metal. This prevented the roof from catching fire when embers from the wildfire rained down.
Millikin also said she and her husband lined the ground with stones up to the drip line of the roof, and cut down foliage that was up against the outside walls. This helped to create a fire break around the house and prevent embers from igniting the surrounding vegetation.
Finally, the house was not too close to neighboring properties, which often provide fuel for wildfires. Instead, it was bordered on three sides by the ocean, a road, and an empty lot.
While the house had sprinklers, they were not working when the fire hit because the power was out. However, any combustibles were largely removed from the under-deck area, which also faced the ocean.
Millikin said she and her husband were “stunned” when they saw that their house was the only one left standing in their neighborhood.
“We didn’t do anything special,” she said. “We just wanted to honor the building.”
Wildfire experts say that Millikin’s house had many of the qualities that would help it survive such disasters.
“People generally think that it’s a big wall of flames that is catching houses on fire, but often the mechanism is embers,” said Susie Kocher, a forestry adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension.
“So embers are coming from the flaming front, which could be some distance away.”
Kocher said that the red-roofed house was “very lucky” to have survived the wildfires.
“It’s a reminder that there are things you can do to make your home more fire-resistant,” she said.
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