With every fire in California, state leaders learn lessons. The Sayre Fire gobbled up much of the Oakridge Mobile Home Park over the weekend, showing that maybe it's time to beef up the building codes for mobile homes.
"They're lightweight construction. They ignite easily and when one gets going, the heat intensity is very great and soon it turns sometimes into conflagration," said Kevin Reinerston, from the State Fire Marshal's Office.
An out of control fire is exactly what happened. Since July 1st, the state has mandated that all new single family homes near high fire danger zones use ignition-resistant materials on roofs, siding and decks. That means it should take at least 20 minutes for a flying ember to set the house on fire. Governor Schwarzenegger now says those regulations need to be applied to mobile home parks too.
"We should start thinking about building also the mobile homes with the same retardant materials that we now build in those fire prone areas, when we build homes. I think that we would have saved probably a lot of those mobile homes," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California.
The goal is to buy time for firefighters to get to the burning homes and for homeowners to escape. The state hopes to have the new requirements in place by late January, meaning the fire victims at Oakridge will likely have to follow the stricter rules if they decide to stay.
"Hopefully, it will provide a level of safety when it comes to these events, like fires," said Chris Robinson, from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
There are 4,200 mobile home parks across California with about 400,000 spaces.
Once the new codes are adopted, they would only apply to new construction and not be retroactive, thus leaving thousands of mobile homes vulnerable.
The mobile home industry estimates ignition-resistant materials would add as much $1,500 to the cost of a home.