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5/11/2012 - Insurance experts warn homeowners of wildfire risk


The use of stone walkways can help reduce wildfire risks.

With many parts of the country experiencing drought-like conditions, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety is arming property owners with tips on how they can reduce the risk of damage to their properties resulting from wildfires.

Steve Quarles, senior research scientist at IBHS, said wildfire embers carried by high winds poses the biggest risk to homeowners filing a property insurance claim.

"Windborne embers can ignite vegetation, debris and combustible materials that can lead to ignition of the exterior of a house," said Quarles. "Further, embers blown or drawn into buildings through gable end vents, eave vents and other openings can ignite a house from the inside."

There are a variety of ways to diminish this threat, including cleaning up dead vegetation around a property, clearing gutters of debris and making the property surrounding a residence "noncombustible" or "low-combustible." This can be accomplished by using rock or stone mulch for landscaping purposes rather than woody vegetation and materials, IBHS advises.

Julie Rochman, president and CEO of IBHS, added that homeowners should assess all wildfire vulnerabilities their properties have and address them accordingly.

To learn more about ways you can reduce risks from a wildfire, visit www.disastersafety.org/wildfire.

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