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Construction group builds fire-resistant homes using ‘revolutionary’ material: ‘I really do believe it’s a game-changer’

“We know that if we’re building homes that are engineered right from the start to be fire resistant, we have a better chance of surviving a horrible situation of a wildfire.”

"We know that if we're building homes that are engineered right from the start to be fire resistant, we have a better chance of surviving a horrible situation of a wildfire."

Photo Credit: iStock

Residents in California are accustomed to the threat of wildfires, but a group has come together to build homes in Calaveras County using a special material that they hope will protect against potential disaster.

As explained on ABC10.com, Bill Soest of Evergreen Performance Inc. said he partnered with Canadian company ZS2 Technologies to build a first-of-its-kind home in a California city called Angels Camp using a magnesium-based material that they are “confident” to call fire-resistant.

“Now seeing what’s happening here, we have basically a revolutionary change,” Soest said.

In a time-lapse demonstration of the sturdiness of the material, it endured five minutes of constant high heat without burning or melting. 

“We have a fire-resistant material. Fireproof? Who’s to say? But definitely, fire resistance is the big key to this equation,” Soest said. “We know that if we’re building homes that are engineered right from the start to be fire resistant, we have a better chance of surviving a horrible situation of a wildfire.”

In addition to being resistant to fire, ZS2 Technologies co-founder Doug Brown said the material sourced from Canada is also resistant to mold, insects, and water.

“Magnesium is a critical mineral. We take it as a supplement. It supplies higher value industries, like steel refractory bricks, and thinking about refractory bricks, those are the molten molds for molten metals that we pour,” Brown explained. “What better material to look at building some of the homes that we live in out of?”

The cost of the Angel Camp home is described as “slightly more expensive than a traditional home,” but its benefits are a necessity in an area that constantly faces the possibility of a devastating catastrophe. Gregg Smith of Calaveras County Habitat for Humanity said his team has been working to build affordable homes out of this material for the past year.

“We have 17 acres where we’re going to build 107 affordable, sustainable homes, 43 condominiums, and 64 homes — three- and four-bedroom homes,” Smith said.

The effort in Calaveras County is just one of many around the world that hope to create fire-resistant homes. For example, a Colorado startup company is using fire-resistant compressed earth blocks to build homes, while Australian scientists have found that mycelium, the root-like structure of fungi, can be used to create fire-resistant cladding for buildings.

The Angels Camp home was expected to be completed by the beginning of this year, and Habitat for Humanity also hoped to have three model homes built by that time.

“I really do believe it’s a game-changer,” Soest said. “I completely believe that.”

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