It’s been nearly two years since a wildfire destroyed over 20,000 acres and left dozens of homes destroyed in Horry County. This week the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) will conduct wildfire research designed to simulate conditions that would cause a house to catch fire.
IBHS CEO and President Julie Rochman says the goal is not to burn down the test homes, but they’re really looking for ignition points.
We’re looking at 28 different points around and near a house, on a house, where sparks or embers can land and catch something that’s combustible and then ultimately it can burn down the entire house. Our goal for these tests is not to burn down a house each and every time, because we ‘re really looking at ignition as opposed to fire oppression, but, yes, the houses are going to catch on fire as we’re doing the test.
Rochman says South Carolina is one of 38 states in the United States that have wildfire risk present.
The danger in South Carolina is not necessarily geographic within the state, it has to do with the weather. So, when we have a cold winter like we’ve just had and a lot of vegetation dies and it’s been very dry, that makes conditions, unfortunately, more ripe for wildfires, which can be sparked by lightning. They can be sparked by careless cigarettes being tossed out of car windows. You know, there’s lots of ways that wildfires start.
According to the institute, this type of testing has never before been done. Rochman says they are encouraged by the comments from experts who say these replications of a wildfire look exactly like they would see in the real world.
So that’s very important to us, that our tests acutally convey a very realistic scenario that our results are reflecting that as well. So the guidance that we give to consumers will be very good guidance that the fire service and other people can agree is good, sound advice and there are a lot of ways that people can protect their homes.
The tests will be conducted Thursday at the IBHS Research Center in Chester County using full-scale structures and typical wildfire conditions.