Simulated wildfire puts building materials to the test -

Simulated wildfire puts building materials to the test

Wildfires can reduce a home to a melted pile of charred mess within minutes. The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) research center in Richburg, S. C. set out to find what building materials can handle the heat and keep homes safer in the long run.

The specimen house used in the test is three different homes combined in one.

"This is a specimen that represents residential roof covers and wall covers. It's not necessarily a house," explains Julie Rochman, president and CEO of IBHS.

The house was put under fire not to burn the whole thing down, but just to see how well the outside held up in the heat.

"It allows us to compare building materials. We're not interested in the entire structure; we're just interested in those things that cover the structure and are around the structure," says Rochman.

When the simulated ember storm is lit, fires break out quickly. Dry mulch and pine needles ignite and put the siding to the test.

Vinyl siding starts to melt and burns up on contact.

The aftermath? The gutters and siding melted and the wood shingles burned right through. Even the concrete fiber siding thought to withstand the flames got a little charred.

Rochman says although the demonstration is dramatic, what's learned in the test will benefit people for years to come.

"The point of these tests is to demonstrate to people some simple, often free things they can do to reduce the chance their house is going to go up in flames as a result of wildfire," says Rochman.

For more DIY safety tips that could prevent your home from wildfire damage, visit

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