Embers, firebrands, brands, clinkers, whatever you call them, they are all flying coals from an active fire. The bigger the fire, the bigger the ember storm.
Embers are literally burning pieces of wood flying through the air.
Embers can, do, and will, ignite and destroy WUI homes every single year. Will yours be next?
The spot fire hazard directly depends on the recipient fuel condition and previous experimental studies showed that the materials inside structures are more likely to be ignited than outside building materials in the case of urban fires and WUI fires.
That quote is from the International Journal of Wildland Fire 2010.
This reminds us that keeping embers out is the goal. Why? Because something like half of all WUI homes destroyed by wildfire ignited inside the structure!
So you have to defend against embers outside your home, and inside your home.
Embers Storms Are Coming
Living in and around national forest and other wild land has a price. Wildfire. They will happen around. They will threaten our lives and property.
Ember storms are typical of major conflagrations. What you are facing as a resident of the WUI, here in Eastern Madera County as of 2015, are all the right (wrong) conditions for a major fire disaster.
Four years of drought, low live fuel moisture, epidemic tree die off, heavy brush, all conspire to make a coming ember storm inevitable.
Overwhelmingly, embers are the cause of structure loss in the WUI. This has become the inescapable conclusion of decades of research. Even centuries old fires have recorded stories of flying embers igniting structures.
That isn’t to say direct flame contact and heat can’t ignite structures.
But based on real factual data, most homes burn because of embers, not flames or heat.
This gives us a real opportunity to blunt the effect of ember storms.
The Good News
The good news is that you can affect fire behavior in and around your home. This is critical to understand.
Your situation is not hopeless. If you have the desire, you can make your home virtually “bulletproof” against fire.
There are no guarantees, but being prepared will give you peace of mind.
At the very least, you will know and understand your situation better. At most, you could save everything depending how far you take your new knowledge.
How to harden your home.
The two videos below help illustrate ember activity dramatically.
The first one is a simulation that blows embers at a structure to point of ignition.
Observing the resulting fire illustrates how the simple things make all the difference. Of particular interest is ember behavior in a gable vent.
The second video is a short public service animated message that neatly shows a flying ember.