Protecting Homes from Wildfire Spread

by Kathy Ziprik, Staff Writer for

This Multi-Width Shake polymer roofing tile from DaVinci Roofscapes in Autumn blend has a Class A rating for fire spread.

All it takes is a spark. One ember carried on the wind that lands on a cedar shake roof. That’s when the troubles begin.

A decade ago, homeowners outside of California probably would not have thought twice about selecting roofing materials that would resist the spread of wildfire. Not so today.

In the past several years, dry weather has made sparks fly from rooftop to rooftop in homes located in Texas, South Carolina, Montana and Washington. And, with more dry conditions predicted in the future, people across the country are now searching for fire-resistant roofing options to top their homes.

Properties of Synthetic Roofs

“It’s heartbreaking to watch the news and see peoples’ dream homes going up in flames as a result of wildfires,” says Ray Rosewall, president and CEO of DaVinci Roofscapes. “Most importantly, it’s avoidable. Untreated natural wood shake and shingle roofs are tinderboxes waiting to ignite, while synthetic roofing systems have extremely high tolerance to flames.”

Synthetic slate and shake roofing tiles manufactured by DaVinci have been tested and achieved a Class A rating for fire retardance. This means that the roof will withstand extended fire exposure. With a roof bearing a Class A rating, you know it will resist the spread of fire and won’t produce flying firebrands and embers.

This Utah home boasts Multi-Width Shake polymer tiles in a Mountain blend from DaVinci Roofscapes.

“The ongoing dry conditions across the country increase the value of a roof made of fire-resistant synthetic roofing tiles,” says Rosewall. “Unfortunately the extremely dry weather, mixed with strong winds, represents the perfect recipe for wildfires. In recent years we’ve seen massive wildfires in the Carolinas, Arizona and continuously in California. As we get into the dry season again, it makes more sense than ever before for builders to help protect the homes they construct with synthetic roofing tiles that won’t promote flame spread.”

Surviving a Wildfire

According to the report “Living With Fire” released through the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, wood shake and shingle roofs increase the risk of structural loss due to wildfire. The report cites that, depending on the amount of brush clearance near a home, houses with untreated wood roofs were up to 21 times more likely to be destroyed by wildfire than those with fire-resistant roofs.

How can a home survive a wildfire? While there are no guarantees, you can dramatically improve the odds by installing a fire-resistant roof.

One Homeowner’s Story

With Bellaforté Slate in place, the Baer family never worries about embers from wildfires igniting their Class A rated roof.

Dan Baer wishes his builder had installed fire-resistant roofing shingles on his Yorba Linda, California, home. The homeowner remembers feeling helpless back in 2008 as he watched raging wildfire flames come to within a half mile of his home… and the old wooden shake shingles on top of his home.

“More than fifty homes burned in our area during the one fire,” says Baer. “If the winds had been stronger, our home would have been included. That old shake roof was a tinderbox waiting to ignite. Our new Bellaforté polymer tiles are rated Class A for fire retardance, which gives us tremendous peace-of-mind.”

After Baer had his new polymer slate roof put atop his house, he celebrated in a unique way—with a roof party.

“I wanted everyone to reach out, touch this roof and see why we’re so excited,” says Baer. “The DaVinci slate looks like authentic slate but it’s completely man-made. I’m thrilled with the quality of the product, the custom color we selected and the fire-resistancy of this polymer roof.”