News Room

Wildfire tests at IIBHS Research Center show danger from embers

Wildfire embers were on the attack in the latest test at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Research Center in Richburg, S.C. On March 24, a shower of deadly embers was sprayed at a house in the institute’s test chamber.

The embers were created by burning mulch at 700 degrees and then blowing them through giant tubes. The test center’s fans sent the sparks toward a full-size house.

In minutes, parts of the house were burning. Straw mulch and shrubbery around the base of the house caught fire. Vinyl siding melted. Embers burned through a portion of the roof covered in wooden shingles.

Parts of the house with fiber-cement siding, fiberglass composition shingles and aluminum gutters did not burn.

“If there is one message you take away today, it is fire burns quickly; fear the embers,” said Julie Rochman, president and chief executive officer for the institute.

Embers from a wildfire can smolder for hours and then ignite.

Homeowners can reduce the possibility of damage from wildfire by using rocks, hardwood or cypress mulch rather than pine straw. Vegetation that accumulates fine dead twigs should be removed from beds close to the house, and low-growing vegetation should be well-maintained.

To reduce ember damage, clean out gutters and remove pine needles and leaves from roofs. When replacing the roof, choose fire-resistant materials.

To see videos of the March test, go to

To learn more about protecting your home from wildfire, visit

(Information compiled from reports by the Rock Hill Herald and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.)

For more information, contact the South Carolina Insurance News Service at 803-252-3455 or use our contact form.