As the Caldor Fire continues to ravage California, one cabin has survived by implementing a remarkable tin foil-like protectant as these startling images show.
“It’s not tin foil,” says Firezat founder Dan Hirning.
At first, it does look as if an Outsider took grocery store tin foil and wrapped it around their entire house. But upon closer examination, there’s an incredible history behind the technology.
The Caldor Fire is currently at 50% containment. Countless structures, however, have already been lost. Yet this California cabin has managed to survive in a Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort community.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the cabin’s owner put a “Fire Shield” to use. The tech comes from San Diego’s Firezat. Within, tin foil-like aluminum splays the outside with woven threads of fiberglass and polyester inside, says founder Hirning.
Using thousands of staples, the tech then protects the structure from raging blazes like the Caldor Fire.
“It’s so perfectly engineered after all these years,” Hirning adds.
Above, the Sierra-at-tahoe home stands amidst horrific flames. Caldor Fire took everything around the cabin. Yet it still stands.
This is a result of the foil providing “a fire-resistant aluminum barrier which protects combustible structures from firebrands and radiant heat,” as Firezat explains.
Engineering professor at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Fumiaki Takahashi, adds that the tech can block up to 92% of the convective heat. In addition, 96% of the radiation is blocked by two-layer blankets with an aluminum surface. It’s miraculous, but not a miracle, as the shield only holds for so long.
“It is effective for protecting structures for a short period while the wildfire front passes, Takahashi says. The tech lasts up to five to 10 minutes, he says, “but longer protection would be needed to prevent structure-to-structure ignition.”
Caldor Fire-Proof Foil: Here’s How it Works
So how, exactly, does this tech work? And why aren’t we seeing more of it as wildfires continue to ravage the American West?
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the incredible shield works in blazes like the Caldor Fire as follows:
- Firezat’s tech keeps firebrands (large burning embers) from entering buildings through gutters, vents, windows and roofs. It also provides a shield on lodging in corners or other angular spot.
- The foil also prevents flames from making direct contact with homes
- It does so by “reflecting thermal radiation from a large fire burning nearby over a sustained period, possibly protecting the house from bursting into flames from the intense heat.“
It may look like a potato ready for the grill, as the internet keeps declaring, but it works. The proof is in this very cabin, which stands after the Caldor Fire continues to decimate California.
As for why it’s not in wider use, that may come down to pricing. On Firezat’s site, a 5×200-foot role comes in at $686. Depending on how large a structure one is looking to protect, this racks up fast.
No matter the cost, however, it has to beat total loss of one’s home, business, or life altogether.