The Internet Has Figured Out How This 100-Year-Old House Outlasted the Maui Fires

an aerial image shows a red roofed house that survived the fires surrounded by destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in the historic lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western maui in lahaina, hawaii on august 10, 2023 embattled officials in hawaii who have been criticized for the lack of warnings as a deadly wildfire ripped through a town insisted on august 16 that sounding emergency sirens would not have saved lives at least 110 people died when the inferno levelled lahaina last week on the island of maui, with some residents not aware their town was at risk until they saw flames for themselves photo by patrick t fallon afp photo by patrick t fallonafp via getty images
How Could This House Survive the Maui Wildfire?PATRICK T. FALLON - Getty Images

The Lahaina wildfire might be mostly contained, but the effects of the natural disaster continue to rock Maui. So far, the fire has burned 2,170 acres of land, claimed at least 114 lives, and resulted in up to $6 billion worth of losses. But while the disaster has left a tidal wave of despair, a new photo from the tragedy has us perplexed....

A few days ago, the internet circulated an aerial photo of a neighborhood that was destroyed by the Lahaina wildfire—except it wasn't all destroyed. Located in the middle of the rubble was a 100-year-old wooden house that looks like it remained mostly unscathed. But, how?

It might remain a mystery, but with 25 years of experience in the home building space, De-Mazing's Monika Zasada has some theories. Her biggest? It was properly engineered. "Properly engineered homes are simply structurally sound, and they are sturdy," she explains.

lahaina evacuees wait to return,
Robert Gauthier - Getty Images

Zasada points to framing lumber elements, which are pieces of engineered wood that are used to construct the skeleton of the house. "[They are probably] correctly sized, making walls thick enough to hold the weight of the building," she explains. Meanwhile, structural steel beams and posts as well as hurricane strapping were likely utilized, which Zasada likens to a corset's boning channels and lacing, respectively. Speaking of steel, Honolulu's Civil Beat reveals that the home's owners renovated the home in 2021, adding a commercial-grade steel roof that would've added to the structure's sturdiness.

A great structure might explain why the home hasn't collapsed, but what about burning? After all, this home looks like it's in tip-top condition. Zasada says it might be the materials used in the home such as fire-resistant paint, spray or cellulose insulation, and drywall, which is naturally fire-resistant. "Fire-retardant materials are materials either naturally fire-resistant or treated with fire-resistant chemicals and additives," she explains. Plus, Zasada suspect that this home might've received some high-tech upgrades, like a top-of-the-line sprinkler system.

But, according to Civil Beat, the new landscaping also played a major role in protecting this home. Per the renovation, the homeowners spruced up their grounds with river stones, which are less combustible in fires than alternatives like pumice, limestone, and gravel.

With so many wildfires rocking this planet, it's now more important than ever to learn how to protect your home from natural disaster. To help, take a look at our guide to improving your home's air quality during these tragic times.

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