Clarification, Sept. 1, 2015: When this story was published Aug. 25, 2015, Yahoo Homes said that the Southern California bunker had been "marked down to $2.3 million, half its original asking price." The original 2014 asking price of $4,499,000 was for the entire Stunt Road Compound of 44 acres, including two houses. A month ago, in late July 2015, the houses were formally split into two listings: 415 Stunt Road, comprising 39 acres including the concrete bunker, for $2.3 million; and 475 Stunt Road, 5 acres including the newer but more traditional house, at $1,699,000. The full 44-acre, two-house compound is also still available, now asking $3.8 million. The listings are held by Chryssa Lightheart. Yahoo Homes apologizes and has edited the post below and the accompanying slideshow to reflect the clarification.
We were working on an update to our story last year about a practically indestructible "Bunker Moderne" home in Southern California — now available with less acreage and minus a companion house at $2.3 million, half the original asking price of the full compound — when video of another monolithic concrete home started spreading across the Internet like, well, wildfire:
The home in the video sits in the path of the rapacious Okanogan Complex inferno, the largest in Washington's history at more than 400 square miles and growing. Yet homeowner John Belles hunkered down inside and lived to tell the tale with some nonchalance: "The fire was, like, right here, 30 yards or so to the north of me, when I decided that it was time to go in the building.
"I didn't know how it was going to work out, but I figured I was safe inside the building. It was cool and, you know, it's well protected with the concrete and everything."
From the safety within, he saw the flames climb right over his home.
"After the fire passed, I came back outside and there was no damage whatsoever." Even he was surprised that the PVC skin wasn't a bit scorched. He'd hosed down the home earlier, and thinks that probably helped.
He lives in a remote area near Riverside, Washington, so he built the home in 1999 with the expectation that he might not be able to count on emergency services. "It's a perfect example of the authorities being spread thin and not being able to take care of everybody. You just can't really depend on that. You have to prepare."
The woman who built the California concrete home, an environmentalist named Mary Ellen Strote, told a similar story of her bunker — an earth-sheltered home completed around 1990 in Calabasas — after the devastating Old Topanga firestorm of 1993. "There is no worse case than this," she said, yet "I did not have one bit of damage inside the house."
She admitted to the Los Angeles Times back then that she hadn't had the nerve to ride out the inferno from inside the house, though. "I trusted the house, but I didn't," she said. "You know what I mean?"
The only damage was exterior scorch marks, which a steam cleaning easily dealt with. A local fire official praised her home: "Sounds to me like she thought ahead a little bit. Construction is very important." A traditional house on her property burned to the ground and has since been replaced by another traditional home.
Last summer, her so-called Stunt Road Compound — both the concrete bunker and the regular house on 44 acres — hit the market at $4,499,000. Now the bunker is being offered along with 39 acres (but minus the second house) at $2.3 million.
Also on Yahoo Homes: