Modern building codes and construction techniques were effective in saving buildings from the devastating Maui wildfire on August 9th, according to a recent report, IBHS Early Insights Lahaina Fire—2023, from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s research division.
The report cited a residential development, consisting of a mix of single-family homes and a cluster of multifamily units built between 2019 and 2020, that escaped destruction. The structures survived the conflagration at least partly due to fire retardant construction and modern building codes, the report says.
The exteriors of several of these buildings did ignite, but they were not consumed by flames. “Hawaii’s modern building code has high-wind requirements that introduced elements that helped newer construction resist wildfire conditions,” the report says.
Despite the buildings being located close together, the development was spared in part because of:
- Class A roof covers—specifically asphalt shingles and metal
- Non-combustible exterior wall materials
- High wind-rated attic vents that prevented embers from entering the attic space
Notably, the report adds that landscape vegetation did not cover as much ground as it did in other locations that were destroyed by the fire. This provided less fuel for the flames to jump from one structure to another.