"As the Blue Ridge Fire blazed across California's Orange County in 2020, O.P. Almaraz stared at the menacing glow on the horizon and evacuated his family to a hotel. The next morning, he walked out of his room into a jam-packed, buzzing, chaotic lobby.
"I thought, holy smokes, everyone is wondering if their house is going to make it, and there's so much uncertainty," he says. "And that's when I'm like, okay, I've got to commit to figuring out how can homes survive, so we're not just praying that our homes make it."
Almaraz — a longtime home-restoration expert whose crews clean and renovate homes after a disaster — is now part of a nascent but fast-growing industry of wildfire preparedness and mitigation that includes everything from home retrofits to AI-powered smoke detectors."