March 11, 2009
IAN Clarke gave his meticulously built
log home just a 5 per cent chance of
surviving the February 7 bushfires.
The 10-hectare bush block surrounding
it was burnt, and he was not there to
activate the sprinkler system on the
house at the base of the Cathedral
Ranges, north of Marysville.
But returning after the fires, Mr Clarke
found the log home still standing,
despite several nearby houses being
The State Government's tough new
building guidelines for homes in
bushfire-prone areas come into force
According to the Government, homes
built in the most extreme bushfire areas
must have outside walls built from noncombustible
But this does not mean a total ban on timber.
Sofia Dedes, a spokeswoman for Planning Minister Justin Madden, said last night that "selected
timbers" could be used.
She said building approval would depend on the type of timber and the level of fire threat in a particular
Mr Clarke said his home had no wooden decks, a concrete slab, double-glazed windows framed with
aluminium and thick logs that did not catch fire easily.
The logs were sealed with "four-hour fire-rated" putty and the roof has "low-nose" terracotta tiles that
resist a build-up of embers.
Mr Clarke said he spent $1000 developing a fire plan before building the log home, including clearing
all ground vegetation for 45 metres around the house and clearing trees closer than six metres.
The State Government is reviewing native vegetation clearing laws and a Government spokesman said
it was expected the review would be completed in time for the bushfire royal commission's interim
findings in August.
Justin Leonard, project leader for bushfire research with the CSIRO, described Mr Clarke's cabin as the"Rolls-Royce" of log cabins, but was unable to say if it would pass the tough standards required to build homes assessed as under extreme threat in areas called the "flame zone".
He said weatherboard construction would have more difficulty passing than log homes.
Cornel van der Heyden has been building log homes for 12 years, and is the director of Great Bear
Log Homes based in Mansfield, which built Mr Clarke's home.
Mr van der Heyden said there were many misconceptions about log homes and bushfires because of
the traditional cheap Australian version of treated pine log cabins. His fire-resistant log homes cost
"Log homes do survive bushfires," he said, adding that he had built 35 log homes built to North
American standards and not one had been destroyed by bushfire.
This story is shared by Vaughn at Satterwhite log Homes. www.satterwhiteloghomes.com
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