Cabin wrapped in foil survives California wildfire

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Cabin wrapped in foil survives California wildfire

Amazing photos show a California cabin almost completely wrapped in metal foil — helping it became one of the few structures to survive the Caldor Fire as it ripped through a ski resort town.

The San Francisco Chronicle, which shared the image Wednesday, said that the unusual-looking cabin was one of only a couple to survive the blaze in a forested area near Sierra-at-Tahoe.

The home — which looked like it was wrapped in aluminum foil — drew comparisons to a giant baked potato or a oversized leftovers, the California paper said.

The “Fire Shields” are made by San Diego-based Firezat, with aluminum on the outside and woven threads of polyester and fiberglass inside, company founder Dan Hirning told the paper. They are then stuck on properties with thousands of staples.

“It’s not tin foil,” Hirning told the paper. “It’s so perfectly engineered after all these years.”

The company’s website says the shields “provide a fire resistant aluminum barrier which protects combustible structures from firebrands and radiant heat.”

Fire shield infographic.
The Fire Shields are made by San Diego-based Firezat, with aluminum on the outside and woven threads of polyester and fiberglass inside.
Firezat Inc.
Fire shield infographic.
The foil shields “provide a fire resistant aluminum barrier which protects combustible structures from firebrands and radiant heat.”
Firezat Inc.

Fumiaki Takahashi, an engineering professor at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, told The Chronicle that two-layer blankets with an aluminum surface can block up to 92 percent of the convective heat and 96 percent of the radiation — but not for long.

“It is effective for protecting structures for a short period while the wildfire front passes — five to 10 minutes — but longer protection would be needed to prevent structure-to-structure ignition,” he told the paper.

The apparent success of the material foiling the destructive fire got the thumbs up from many online.

Foil-wrapped cabin during fire.
Two-layer blankets with an aluminum surface can block up to 92 percent of the convective heat and 96 percent of the radiation.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
A structure is wrapped in foil to protect it from flames as a neighboring structure burns during the Caldor fire.
The aluminum sheeting is only effective for a short period while a wildfire front passes, about 5 to 10 minutes.
JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

“It’s not stupid if it works,” one person stressed.

Another person joked that it could carry safety risks, too, quipping, “Don’t put it in the microwave.”

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