UPDATED January 15, 2022
November 8, 2018 is a day that will never be forgotten for 27,000 residents living in Paradise, California. A day of catastrophe and sadness that swept across the city due to an unforgiving California fire––one of the worst fires in history. With destroying everything in its path, including 90% of homes and over 18,000 buildings, the fire left the city crippled and broken, physically and emotionally for all.
How The Paradise Fire Began
To truly understand how far the city of Paradise has come, we’re taking a look back in time to how it all began. Seeing the turmoil that the fire bestowed on the city and its population to watch them rise above and lead with such strength that has inspired us all.
Watch as This Old Home respondent, Kevin O’Connor, documents the city of Paradise experience with the fire, as well as speaks with three families that were personally affected by this apocalyptic incident, including fire engineer, Calin Moldovan, who helped to lead people to safety.
As you see in the video, water expert, Michael Lindquist explains how the water system pulled in contaminated air as it drained and depressurized during the fire. This process led to contamination absorption in the water pipes, which has the possibility of further contamination of clean water once it’s refilled. Therefore, 11,000 trenches were built to run to a water supply for the burnt parcels.
Other basic infrastructure services, such as electricity and gas also had to be restored. Including five million tons of burnt metal was left and ten million trees that were destroyed, leaving the city to rebuild from scratch.
In 2008, the California building code had changed to make homes more fire resistant (3). Between the new building code coming into effect in 2008 and the Paradise fire in 2018, 350 homes were built with this new building code. Half of those homes survived the fire and only 18% of homes that were built before the new building code had actually survived.
Taking Pasquini Engineering, Inc. To Paradise, California
In a state that is no stranger to fire devastation during the warmer months, the fire in Paradise was unlike any other. As an engineering firm in California, we couldn’t sit by the sidelines and watch families attempt to rebuild their lives with such limiting circumstances.
In a means to do our part not only as a company but as concerned individuals, we took initiative by taking our engineering and design services to the city of Paradise to assist the city in rebuilding their home to be even better and stronger than before. By taking a strict approach with our engineering plans, we wanted to help the city avoid anything of a similar nature to ever happen again.
Rebuilding The City Of Paradise
Local Paradise contractor, Ken Blanton, of Integrity Homes, amongst others, has worked with Pasquini Engineering, Inc. to abide by current building codes with specific building techniques for constructing wildfire proof homes. Building techniques to fire proof the home include:
- Using fire-resistant material made of aggregates, a binder, and water for exterior of the home, also known as stucco (7)
- Installing tempered glass for windows.
- Positioning roofs with Class A fire-resistant material.
- Using vents with honeycomb and wire structure to avoid bugs and amber due to heat.
- Providing and maintaining a setback defensible area by reducing/eliminating fire prone materials within 100 feet of the building.
Leaving the city of Paradise was not an option. After a serious assessment, the city united with the help of debris removals, contractors, engineers, architects, and professionals alike to rebuild Paradise one structure at a time. With the citizens’ passion to rebuild their city once again, we are happy to have lent a hand in rebuilding Paradise, and we will continue to provide our building design and engineering services to the people of Paradise as long as we can, as well as standing by their side as they are staying “Paradise Strong” (8).
Join us as we continue to revisit the rebuilding of Paradise, and learn more tips and tricks to building a fire-resistant structure.
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