Straw Bale Homes and a Wildfire

I received the following e-mail yesterday regarding the fire resistance of straw bale homes:

“I have a 10 year old straw bale house in Flagstaff, AZ. I heard that in the wildfires over the last few years that straw bale homes incinerated. Have you heard that?”

Here’s my reply:

Thanks for your email and you can take a deep breath of relief. No, that is absolutely not true.

Bale buildings are very fire resistant. In fact, a recent study proved what we bale builders have known for years: once plastered, bale buildings have an extremely long burn resistance, more so that conventional homes. The results of that test will be out soon and will be posted on our website in some capacity.

During the wild fires in San Diego a few years a go, there was a neighborhood that was completely destroyed. The only thing left standing, literally the only thing, was one straw bale wall. The bales were burned out, but the wall was still in place. Even cars and oven ranges were burnt away, but not the SB wall!

Be sure to take safety precautions seriously and clear debris away from your house, especially under decks and in any foundation vents. Clean your gutters of leaves, and trim your trees up and remove ladder fuels. If you have adequate fire safety guidelines met around your home, you will be fine, in fact more than fine. You will be safe in a super fire resistant
house! Doesn’t that feel better?

4 Responses to Straw Bale Homes and a Wildfire

  1. carolyn allen Thu, September 6, 2007 at 12:54 pm #

    At 6:48 PM, Carolyn Allen said…

    The fire resistance is good to hear. I read about the damage to the San Diego strawbale house that was engulfed by the firestorm, but had not heard that a wall was left standing.

    Thank you for these ongoing posts — I would like to build a strawbale house in Southern California, so articles that reference our unique ecoregion needs.
    Carolyn Allen
    http://www.socalnature.org

  2. andrew Thu, September 6, 2007 at 12:54 pm #

    At 9:12 PM, Andrew Morrison said…
    Carolyn,
    Thanks for your comment. I am glad to hear that the posts are helpful for you. I try to make them detailed enough to be useful without overwhelming folks at the same time. Good luck with your project.

  3. John Braman Sun, September 22, 2013 at 5:36 am #

    Hi Andrew (?)
    I’m in the prelims for modest home in San Diego County. Seismic zone “D”. North of Del Dios, on Mt Israel Road. i’d like to consider Strawbale, but only if San Diego County will accept load bearing design? Any suggestions as to engineer or designer that can provide me enough details to design around? Also I have slope and boulders that can be used to my advantage.
    thanks,

  4. Andrew Morrison Sun, September 22, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I would suggest contacting Chris Keefe (chris@OrganicformsDesign.com) and Bill Taha (Bill@Structure1.com). Let them know I sent you. Load Bearing may be difficult to get approval for, but those two guys can certainly help it happen.

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