The recent wildfire in Maui, Hawaii, brought widespread devastation, reducing almost every property to ashes. Amid this apocalyptic scene, an astonishing sight emerged – a two-story house with white walls and a red roof stood untouched, its garden still green amidst the charred landscape. The images of this miraculous survivor quickly went viral on social media, sparking a wave of questions about its improbable survival. The homeowner, Dora Atwater Millikin, has now revealed the secret behind this house’s resilience.
“It’s a 100% wood house, so it’s not like we fireproofed it or anything,” Ms. Atwater Millikin explained in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Ms. Atwater Millikin and her husband, Dudley, had recently undertaken the renovation of this century-old house they’ve owned for three years. Their intention was to honor the historical structure, preserving its original character without considering the threat of wildfires.
“We love old buildings, so we just wanted to honor the building. And we didn’t change the building in any way – we just restored it,” Ms. Atwater Millikin emphasized.
However, the critical decision that spared this house from the wildfire’s wrath was the replacement of the traditional asphalt roof with a heavy-gauge metal one.
“During the fire, there were pieces of wood – 6, 12 inches long – that were on fire and just almost floating through the air with the wind and everything,” described Ms. Atwater Millikin to the LA Times. “They would hit people’s roofs, and if it was an asphalt roof, it would catch on fire. And otherwise, they would fall off the roof and then ignite the foliage around the house,” she added.
Additionally, they had taken proactive steps, such as cutting down surrounding foliage and adding stones to the ground near the property.
Furthermore, the house’s unique location played a crucial role in its survival. It was not situated too close to neighboring properties but shared borders with the ocean, a road, and an empty lot.
Inspired by their miraculous escape, Ms. Atwater Millikin and her husband now plan to return to Maui and open their doors to neighbors who were left homeless by the devastating wildfire.