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Wrapping A Home Like A Baked Potato Can Save It From Wildfire, Study Finds

A house wrapped in a fire shield
A house wrapped in a fire shield

A new study suggests huge fire blankets can help protect homes during wildfires.

The researchers, who published their work this week in the journal Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering, tested so-called “whole-house fire blankets” under different conditions and found that they blocked nearly all the radiating heat from nearby flames.  

The blankets are usually made with aluminum on the outside with fiberglass underneath. When a house is fully covered it can look like a wrapped baked potato ready to go in the oven. 

“But what the structure wrap will do is, the burning embers that come down like rain, it protects from those,” said Dan Hirning, who runs the company Firezat that makes the blankets, or “structure wraps,” as he calls them. 

The wraps won’t save a house if it’s in the direct path of the flames, Hirning cautioned. And they’re pricey—nearly $900 per roll, which covers 1,500 square feet. So wrapping an average home could cost around $2,000.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2019 KRCC

Ali Budner is KRCC's reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, a journalism collaborative that unites six stations across the Mountain West, including stations in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana to better serve the people of the region. The project focuses its reporting on topic areas including issues of land and water, growth, politics, and Western culture and heritage.
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