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Study: Mud bricks don't get easily ignited unlike wood

Bricks might even survive a tornado or hurricane.
Posted at 8:24 AM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 11:24:45-04

DAVIS, Calif. (KERO) — Millions of Californians live in high-risk wildfire zones. Researchers at the University of California - Davis are designing a fireproof brick to help protect houses in such areas.

Every year hundreds of California homes are destroyed by wildfires. And now mechanical engineers have designed these blocks made of mud which could replace traditional wood and stucco homes that cannot withstand the intense heat of a fire.

In the lab, the mud-made blocks were tested under extreme conditions -- baked in a furnace for seven hours at more than 2,000 degrees. And a side-by-side test shows wood easily gets ignited by a blowtorch while the blocks built out of dirt show no visible damage.

"You have something that is sustainable, affordable, and safe if you design it correctly," said Michele Barbato, a UC - Davis engineering professor.

"The best way of preventing a fire to impact a home is to make sure that the landscaping is engineered in a way to keep the flames away from the home," added Northstate Building Industry Association CEO Mike Stretch.

Scientists say it's groundbreaking research that could one day help reduce the threat of wildfires. Researchers say the bricks might even survive a tornado or hurricane.