On November 8, 2018… in the Sierra Nevada foothills, “The Camp Fire” that erupted that tragic day killed 85 people, destroyed nearly 19,000 homes, businesses and other buildings and within that single day it destroyed most of the town of Paradise, CA. If that wasn’t enough, in September of 2020, the town of Paradise was threatened again when the “North Complex Fire” ripped through the area once again.
About 1,000 homes in the area southeast of Redding have been rebuilt and reconstruction continues on, but entire blocks of Paradise remain little more than empty lots.
Enter Bruce Nagy of Old World Construction in, Chico, CA. One weekend in early May of 2022, Bruce gave us a call telling us he had stumbled across Quick Headers in a MCAA Masonry Magazine given to him by a friend. Bruce said it was like a light bulb went on when he turned the page and saw them.
A mason by trade, Bruce’s company began building structures out of Autoclaved (basically meaning baked in a kiln) Aerated Concrete (AAC) block in 2006 while working in the Bend, OR area. Larger than average CMU blocks but available in many different sizes, Bruce likes to work with AAC blocks that measure 24” x 12” x 8” which weigh an average of 50 lbs. each. The blocks are impervious to heat and flames, just for starters, with the highest code for a burn rating of 4 hours. Bruce tells me that should one of these blocks be put to the test, they would turn glass-like before they would burn. In other words, they would not burn in a fire.
The more he shared with me about the benefits of AAC, the more I became intrigued. Non-combustible; soundproof; no insulation needed with a R factor of R-26 for the Paradise, CA area; less rebar is required than in standard CMU block; it’s impervious to mold and pests; no expansion or contraction so no cracks in the finish; and finally, two steps in the four-step process of plaster coating the walls are cut out as no wire or paper steps are needed.