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Monolithic Dome Survives Texas Wildfire

Image: June 2011: Texas wildfire destroyed 100,000 acres before it was stopped.

June 2011: Texas wildfire destroyed 100,000 acres before it was stopped. (Mike South)


Image: Terrain at the entrance to the McLeod’s property was severely parched.
Image: An attached greenhouse fueled a fire that blazed up the side of the dome.
Image: High winds blew melted plastic from the greenhouse across the top of the dome in a perfect fan shape.
Image: Charred trees surrounded the dome.
Image: About an inch of the three-inch layer of foam was damaged.
Image: Only blackened landscape was visible for as far as the eye could see.
Image: “Ferdinand” scavenges for food on the parched pasture land.
Image: Repair to the dome surface was completed in October 2011.

Fathers Day, 2011:

On that day the Antelope Springs Ranch in Blackwell, Texas fell victim to a wildfire that blazed across the Lone Star State. This fire destroyed 100,000 acres before it was stopped.

With limited resources to fight such a big fire, Antelope Springs Ranch was hit full force. Damage to the surrounding buildings was catastrophic, but the Monolithic Dome survived with just a scar.

Bill McLeod, owner of the Antelope Springs Ranch, called me and asked me to come and visit his site. The dome at Antelope Ranch, built by Monolithic about 11 years ago, is a beautiful hunters’ lodge.

The Damage

When I arrived, I immediately saw that the landscaping was completely burned. Driving to the dome, I could see that the attached garage had burned to the ground, but the dome had survived quite well.

Mr. McLeod described the fire: It started at the garage and worked its way to the dome. Pushed by 30 and 40 mile-an-hour winds, the fire blazed toward the dome whose other side was connected to a plastic greenhouse.

“It was the greenhouse fire that caused the most damage,” said Mr. McLeod. Indeed the greenhouse fueled a fire that blazed up the side of the dome, and before it was done it left a black scar across the dome’s top.

No other building would have survived such a fire — no way!

The Repair

Monolithic was called to repair the dome. We began by removing all the blackened portion of the foam. That foam had been under severe heat, but it had only burned through about a half-inch to one inch of the three inches of foam. Once the blackened foam was removed, we replaced it by spraying a new layer of Polyurethane Foam.

When the foam was completed, we coated it with an elastomeric coating to help keep it sealed. It’s difficult to keep the foam smooth while spraying it on the outside of a structure. Next we sprayed a layer of our light composite Monolithic Stucco, topped with a coat of Poly-Sil 2200, over the foam.

Now that the dome has a concrete coating on its outside, fire will be even less of a problem. We expect this Monolithic Dome, like its brothers and sisters, to last a few centuries.