Max Young walked around a Thousand Oaks home pointing out wood chips in a garden bed, a crack in the stucco and milkweed growing under a single-pane window. All could put the property at risk in an ember storm, he told homeowner Pat Hanley.
“In a large fire, there's the possibility we’re going to have a lot of embers blowing in every direction,” said Young, head of wildfire safety for the Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council. The walk-through was one of dozens of free wildfire assessments – funded by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention – the group completed so far this month to identify ways residents can harden their homes against wildfires.
Research shows a high correlation between home loss in wildfires and embers, said Emily Schlickman, an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental design at UC Davis. It's not necessarily direct flames but pieces of burning debris that can travel miles ahead of the fire front, she said.