Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Chino Hills homeowner recognized for making his home as fire-resistant as possible

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CHINO HILLS, California. (KABC) — While there’s no such thing as a fireproof home, a home in Chino Hills could be as close to one as it gets.

Over the past year and a half, homeowner OP Almaraz has made many changes to his Rock Ridge Way home. As a result, it is the first home to receive the Wildfire Prepared Home Plus designation from the Nonprofit Business Insurance Institute & home security.

“I live right on the hillside, and everyone who lives in that area will eventually be evacuated,” Almaraz said. “So I decided, you know what, I’m going to protect my home as best I can.”

Almaraz experienced an evacuation first hand in October 2020 when the Blue Ridge Fire ignited the hills behind his property.

“Once I started seeing the slope glow, I decided it was time for us to get off,” he said.

While his home survived, Almaraz said he didn’t want to take any chances going forward. His home was insured under the California FAIR Plan, so he knew there might not be much coverage if there was damage to his home.

“For me, I want to protect what we have here instead of having to rebuild it.”

Most of the improvements he made were do-it-yourself projects. These included covering his gutters to prevent leaf buildup, protecting his attic openings with mesh, and moving all of his bushes at least five feet from the outside walls of his home.

“The wall, the shutters, the garage doors, all the elements of the house are non-combustible,” said Anne Cope of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Security.

“It’s actually not the flames marching towards the house, it’s the embers,” Cope said. “They swirl right next to the house and ignite the landscaping, or penetrate through the attic vents and illuminate the structure from the inside out.

“Most Californians already have a Class A roof.

Rich Snyder, a retired firefighter who now works with Allied Disaster Defense, said building codes have come a long way in protecting future homes. But owners of homes that are decades old should consider making some of the improvements Almaraz made to his home.

“Wildfires will happen, it’s part of nature, so the goal is if the fire hits, will my house still be there?” Snyder said.

“This is a perfect example of a home built to survive the fire.”

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