It’s a Wrap! How the Forest Service Protects Historic Structures from Fires

Destructive wildfires that have ripped through Northern California this year have approached many historic areas. The Carr Fire burned some historical sites in Old Shasta and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The Ferguson Fire got dangerously close to historic cabins in Yosemite National Park. And now forest service officials are using a technique to help save historic cabins in the Mendocino National Forest from the Mendocino Complex Fire. Here’s a hint – It’s a wrap!




Firefighters apply a metallic-looking wrap to the outside of structures with the hope it will deter out-of-control wildfire flames from total destruction. Watch as the the Redding Hotshots wrap the Nye Cabin as part of the structure protection plan at the Mendocino Complex Fire:

The wrap is similar to fire shelters that crews can use in an emergency for personal safety. The building wrap is thicker and while it’s said to protect from most radiant heat and burning embers, the Forest Service says it’s not fire proof.

We’ve seen the Forest Service use this technique to protect buildings throughout the fire season, but they only use it on public buildings, not private. And while the wrap is good at keeping the heat at bay, it’s not a full-proof deterrent from total destruction from wildfire.



The wrap material has to be secured with staples and special kinds of tape to ensure that the high winds of a wildfire won’t peel away the protective coating. Wrapping a cabin in the material can take $1,200 worth of material and 6-7 hours of work to secure a building.

Although the Forest Service doesn’t use the method on private buildings (it’s expensive), you can purchase similar material here.

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