Palaces For The People
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Fighting Fire With Steel, Pools and Plaster

The couple, whose house was profiled in this section earlier this month for its germ-fighting design, had planted drought-resistant, fire-retardant vegetation and cleared more than 300 feet in front of their house. And they had deliberately diminished the risk of fire by building with 200,000 pounds of steel, travertine floors and plaster walls. "They wanted low-maintenance materials, but they also insisted on building a fire-resistant house," said David Martin, their architect. "How do you fireproof a house? You don't build it out of anything that can burn, it's that simple."

Capt. John Harber of the Santa Paula Fire Department said the house made a good redoubt. "There's little combustible vegetation here, good access and good water supplies," he said, "and the house is built of noncombustible materials."

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