Fire resistant gel helps Alpine woman protect home during West Fire

Sprays promise to stop embers and flames
Posted at 8:30 AM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 12:45:39-04

ALPINE (KGTV) - With smoke from the West Fire rising just a few miles away from their home, Jane Tompkins and her husband got to work for an evacuation.

"We've been here 25 years, and this was our third time having to evacuate," she says.

This time, though, Tompkins says she left with a little more assurance that she'd have a home to come back to. Jane and her husband sprayed their house with Barricade before they left.

"We got it after the Cedar Fire," she says. "You just attach it to your hose, spray it on all the windows, the wooden eaves. We also sprayed our propane tank."

Barricade is one of a handful of products on the market that promise to protect homes from wildfires. A company spokesman gave 10News this video, showing how it stands up to flames at nearly 5,000 BTUs.

"It's basically millions of tiny sponges that each hold water," says Spokesman George Lucia. "Each sponge will evaporate with the heat and flame. They'll last longer than the fire has fuel."

Lucia used to be the Fire Chief of the Volunteer Fire Department on Palomar Mountain. He says they asked the County to buy Barricade after wildfires in 2007 so that people who live on the mountain could take some action if fire crews couldn't respond quick enough.

"It's not cheap. It's fairly expensive," Lucia says. "But it's cheaper than replacing your whole house."

A full Barricade system sells for around $500 on the company's website. Other products run anywhere from $300 to over $1,000.

To offset the costs, some insurance companies offer discounts and incentives to homeowners who keep the gels on hand. They may also offer help cleaning the gel off of homes after the fire has passed.

For Tompkins, even though the West Fire didn't reach her home, she felt a lot better knowing she used Barricade.

"At least we could say we did as much as we could to try to save our house," she says. "It gave us peace of mind."

That, Tompkins adds, was priceless.