Architects, Contractors Assisting California Residents Affected By Fires

Los Angeles, California September 2, 2017:  La Tuna wildfire

In 2010, air conditioning units, fans, and other pieces of equipment were involved in an estimated 7,400 reported U.S. home structure fires; regular maintenance can prevent the majority of these, but for the fires that recently hit California, virtually nothing could be done.

According to the Los Angeles Times, in addition to taking the lives of dozens of California residents, the recent wildfires destroyed more than 8,400 buildings and homes and left thousands without a place to stay across the state.

The Tubbs fire caused the most amount of structural damage (and resulted in 22 deaths) as it spread to over 36,000 acres. The Tubbs fire completely destroyed or severely damaged roughly 5,500 structures alone. As of October 30, the Tubbs fire, which began on October 8, was 94% contained by fire crews.

A recent survey of homeowners found that two-thirds of people are planning to renovate their homes in the near future, but in California many are left without even the foundation of a home. Thanks to some charitable contractors and architects, structures are being made to accommodate for these fire victims.

“It’s been a huge loss architecturally,” said Julia Donoho, chair of the AIA Redwood Empire’s Firestorm Recovery Committee. “From trailer parks to tract homes to multimillion-dollar homes, there’s every kind of project for people to work on here. We don’t just want a few houses back, we want our whole neighborhood back.”

Architectural Record reports that dozens of architects are focusing their efforts on building a temporary village of modular houses in order to accommodate for those who have lost their places to live amid the fires. Additionally, Donoho and her committee are trying to streamline California’s process for getting an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) built.

CNN reports that Charlie McEvoy, who runs a construction company in Santa Rosa, decided to help the thousands of people who were left without homes by building tiny houses.

McEvoy started a GoFundMe page to raise money for his project: building three tiny homes for the victims. He plans on donating the homes to families who lost everything and who don’t have sufficient funds or insurance to rebuild themselves. Each home will be built on a trailer and be equipped with a working shower, sink, composting toilet, as well as a regenerator, freezer, oven, insulated walls, storage space, windows, and a twin bed.

“We just kind of started the idea,” he said. “There are so many people bending over backwards.”

More than three weeks after the wind-driven fires began to ravage forests, homes, and buildings throughout the state, the blazes have finally subsided. October has finally come to an end, and the devastating California fires are now fully contained.

“It’s amazing how the communities come together,” added McEvoy.

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