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Research engineers investigate the aftermath of the Marshall Fire

BOERSER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – FOX31 sat down with research engineers who recently conducted investigations into the Marshall fire.

Dr. Faraz Hedayati and Daniel Gorham, both research engineers at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, are learning from what saved and destroyed homes in Boulder County.

Engineers spent several days investigating the aftermath of the fires in Louisville, Superior and Unincorporated Boulder County.

“We looked at about 25 or 30 structures,” says Gorham. “This post-disaster investigation is very much in line with previous investigations we’ve done and what we do in the lab.”

While they now take their findings and use them to recreate situations in a controlled lab, the engineers say they’ve noticed a number of big points, starting with what house is designed.

“It’s not just the roof, it’s not just the bulkhead, it’s the building as a system,” says Gorham. “So we think about where the bulkhead comes into contact with the ground for the first five feet, where we know embers build up.”

The two people noticed that several damaged homes in the fire area had hardboard partitions.

“There are alternatives that look exactly the same, but instead of being made of wood particles, they are made of fiber cement particles and that makes them non-flammable,” says Gorham.

Footage shared with FOX31 shows the non-combustible material being tested in a laboratory setting. The house did not ignite with embers fired at the model property. The house also has double-pane tempered glass windows and within the first five feet around the house instead of wood cladding.

Engineers noticed that many of the homes that survived the Marshall Fire also used stone coatings.

“When we talk about the first 5 feet, put your tree, put your shrub right outside it,” says Gorham. “If you also have a wooden fence, that fence essentially acts as a wick for the fire to spread into the house.”

Gorham recommends, at a minimum, make sure the part of your fence that goes within that 5-foot spec isn’t wood.

IBHS has a research-based family preparation guide, you can find it here.

https://kdvr.com/news/local/research-engineers-investigate-marshall-fire-aftermath/ Research engineers investigate the aftermath of the Marshall Fire

Tom Vazquez

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