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Editor’s Note: This article was featured in a blog from the Philadelphia Insurance Cos.

Brush fires and wildfires are a concern for multiple locations throughout the United States. From January 1 to July 15, there were more than 33,000 wildfires, burning about 3.3 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Losses from wildfires added up to $5.1 billion over the past 10 years.

Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY) encourages policyholders to learn more about this exposure and the ways to prevent structural damage from these fires.

Brush fires can attack a building in three different ways:
1. Flying embers are blown by the wind and ignite combustible external elements. This is the most common method.
2. Fire spreads from a bush to the walls of a structure.
3. Radiant heat from high flames around a building causes the structure to reach an auto-ignition point.

When the fire hazard is high, it is important to keep a clear defensible space. PHLY recommends there be a minimum clearance of 300 feet for grass and brush fire exposure and a minimum of 500 feet for forest fire exposure.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Established roadways provide engineered features to offer some barrier and allow access for firefighting personnel, fire-mitigation efforts, and evacuation.
  • Skylights and gutters are not favorable building characteristics as combustible debris can get trapped in them.
  • Water accessibility greatly affects the ability to fight a fire.
  • The construction of the building or type of roof is also important. Preferred roofs are non-combustible, pre-cast, poured, concrete, slate, metal, or composite.

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