Wildfires have proved themselves to be a consistent threat for any of those who live in Malibu or own Malibu real estate. The area’s natural beauty and Mediterranean landscape make it an idyllic place to live, however, the dry climate and of Malibu also makes it incredibly prone to wildfires. For those who remember, the Woolsey fire of 2018 was a grim reminder for those living in Malibu to be ready for a wildfire to break out at anytime and should highlight a critical need to be informed on how to prepare and protect one’s home should a fire suddenly occur.

The Woolsey fire, November 8th, 2018 was the most damaging wildfire in Southern California history. Many of the residents in Malibu sadly lost their homes but for those who are new in Malibu or who are looking to buy a home in Malibu California it’s important to be informed of the damage that could be done to our humble community. The Woolsey fire, burning over 96,000 acres, destroying 1,643 structures and engulfing over 700 homes in just Malibu alone led to the loss of around 10% of all of the citt’s homes. The devastation proved to be a real wake-up call for improved community awareness, and robust fire defense strategies that homeowners should practice and be prepared for come the next fire.

Prevention Strategies for homes in Malibu California

Defensible Space: The first line of defense.

Creating a defensible space around your home is the first step in slowing down an encroaching fire on your property. The defensible space can be split into three different zones, each with their own strategy and level of protection


  • Zone 1 (0-5 feet): Remove anything that is combustible such as mulch, dead vegetation and wood piles. Furniture such as wood chairs and tables, or sofa cushions should be also moved away from the side of the house. Non-combustible materials like gravel and concrete are a good idea to have around the base of your house as well.
  • Zone 2 (5-30 feet): Mow your grass and remove fallen and dry leaves. Also if able, try to landscape shrubs and trees with some spacing to prevent fire from jumping between plants.
  • Zone 3 (30-100 feet): Thin out the vegetation to reduce the fire’s intensity as it approaches your home.

Also, spraying down the perimeter of your home with water before the fire arrives can also help slow down the fire.


Fire- Resistant Building Materials:

If building a home, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on materials.

  • Roofing: Try to use non-flammable roofing materials such as clay, metal, or concrete tiles. Also try to seal up any cracks or openings in the roof that may allow stray embers to enter.
  • Siding: Stucco, fiber cement, clay or metal are great for prevent fires.
  • Windows: Install duel-pane windows with tempered glass to withstand high temperatures

Battening down the home:

It’s important to harden your home's defenses to flying embers and high temperatures during a wild fire. Here are some things you can do to increase your homes ability to combat the wildfires.

  • Eaves and Vents: You can easily install ember resistant eave vents and cover soffits of your home with non combustible materials
  • Gutters: Be sure to clean your gutters occasionally, and if a fire is coming, make sure they are completely cleared out. Dry leaves and debris from here are an easy place for a fire to start on your home. You can additionally install gutter guards to keep debris from collecting.
  • Decks: Clear the area underneath your decks of any flammable materials

What to do in an active fire:


Prepare your property:

  • Irrigation: wet down any plant material and vegetation near or surrounding your home.
  • Remove combustibles from the outside: Patio furniture, cushions, umbrellas or anything else that can catch on fire should be moved inside or far away from the property.
  • Close all vents and windows: close any vents or windows that might allow a stray ember from entering the home.

Evacuation Preparedeness:

  • Go Bags: Emergency Kits, 3 days worth of food and water, medications, and important documents are all things to consider when preparing a go bag incase you need to evacuate and may potentially be away from your home should you need to escape.
  • Your vehicle: make sure your car has fuel and is packed with essential items, even consider sleeping bags or blankets if you are unable to return to your home.
  • Communication: One useful thing to consider is a meeting place for your family and friends to go to incase anyone get’s separated. During the Woolsey fire all cell service was out making long distance communication impossible.

The Woolsey Fire of 2018 served as a powerful reminder of Malibu’s vulnerability to wildfires. By adopting a proactive approach to wildfire preparedness, including creating defensible space, using fire-resistant building materials, and maintaining vigilance during fire season, Malibu residents can significantly enhance their ability to protect their homes and community. Active engagement and collaboration within the community are essential to building resilience against future wildfires and ensuring the safety of all residents.

By learning from past fires and implementing robust prevention and defense strategies, Malibu can continue to be a beautiful and safe place to live amidst the ever-present wildfire risks.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on wildfire preparedness in Malibu. At Shen Realty, we are committed to providing the best service for anyone looking to navigate the Malibu real estate market. Whether you're interested in homes for sale in Malibu CA, or homes for rent in Malibu CA, our team, recognized as the best real estate agent in Malibu, is here to assist you every step of the way. Explore more of our articles to stay informed and discover how we can help you find your dream home in this beautiful community. Visit our website for more insights and updates on Malibu real estate.