This is happening with too much regularity. In San Diego, Lessons on Rebuilding From a Neighborhood Once Ravaged by Fire
The thing that caught my eye is the main photo attached to the article. If you click through you are treated to the site a VERY nice house under construction in a neighborhood that suffered “heavy damage” after (I presume) the 2003 fires.
After Hurricane Andrew hit (and decimated) Dade County Florida, the county made some serious changes to building codes. The state of Florida eventually followed suit on at least most of the changes for hurricane protection. (For one example, you can purchase Dade County Windows, which were required if you don’t have hurricane shutters. They will stop a 2X4 piece of lumber fired at about 120 mph.)
The house being built/rebuilt in California after the 2003 fires is completely stick built shown with plywood roof sheeting and strand-board walls. Now based on its neighbors, it would appear that it will end up with a tile roof (completely fire-proof) and stucco exterior walls (mostly fire-proof). But there is no concept of fire break around the other houses, and while it is hard to be sure, there appears to be at least one Eucalyptus tree in the background.
As they have for years, local residents eye the towering Eucalyptus trees that shade their streets with dread over their explosively flammable branches. They grimace each time they see a wooden fence in the neighborhood, thinking of it as a Roman candle that could shoot flames onto a nearby home.
15 years since the fire decimated the area and there are still Eucalyptus trees in the area. (We won’t talk about lessons learned from the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.) What is wrong with this picture? Forget the fact that they are an invasive species introduced from Australia, displacing native plants, and they do not support native animals. Eucalyptus trees excrete a highly flammable oil. It is this oil, and these trees that are behind a lot of the California fires. (Trees on fire can actually explode, sending flaming bits all around spreading fires.) But those trees are still in the neighborhoods.
And while I’m no expert, it doesn’t appear that the building codes have changed to encourage more in the way of fire-resistance.
There is a movement to eradicate the Eucalyptus at least from certain areas in California, but I would think cities – in danger from wild fires – would want to do that immediately. Immediately being in 2004.