Teen entrepreneurs tackle wildfire with easy-application fire retardant

May 3, 2024

Sebastien Burkhardt, Co-founder of Clore, talks to FSJA about their approach to wildfire defense, balancing entrepreneurship with being in high school

In recent years, wildfires have become a persistent threat, intensifying in both frequency and ferocity across the globe.

These natural disasters leave behind a trail of devastation, impacting ecosystems, communities, and air quality far beyond their immediate area.

Amidst this growing concern, Sebastien Burkhardt and Barrett Deng founded Clore, inspired by firsthand experiences of wildfire smoke during a visit to Boston.

Their encounter on July 21, 2021, transformed their concern into action, leading them to envision a company dedicated to innovating wildfire defense technologies.

Both founders, still juniors in high school, balance their entrepreneurial aspirations with academic responsibilities—Sebastien with a passion for soccer and community service, and Barrett, a debate enthusiast who enjoys aviation and water polo.

This exclusive article features a discussion with Sebastien Burkhardt, co-founder of Clore, delving into the origins and impact of their flagship product, Clore Wildfire Defense.

Developed after witnessing the pervasive reach of wildfire smoke, Clore Wildfire Defense represents a practical solution for homeowners and communities at risk.

Sebastien shares insights into the product’s development, its effectiveness, and the balance required to drive a startup while navigating the challenges of high school.

Through their journey, Clore aims not only to protect homes but also to empower communities to prepare for and respond to the realities of wildfire threats.

Can you tell us about your journey and what inspired you to co-found Clore with a focus on wildfire defense?

Growing up in California around wildfires, I had grown to accept them as a part of life.

Yet, while on vacation in Boston with Barrett (COO & Co-Founder of Clore), smoke from a wildfire in Canada had pushed down to the city, making the air unbreathable.

This startled us as it represented a growing trend of wildfires becoming more common and impactful around the globe.

After a bit of research, Barrett and I learned about long term fire retardants and the chemicals being dropped out of planes.

At the time, there had been very little advancements in wildfire technology in the last 60 years, while wildfires had grown many times more destructive.

We started to develop a chemical formula when we got back to California, and after many tests, we landed on Clore Wildfire Defense.

How does Clore Wildfire Defense work, and what makes it an effective solution for areas prone to wildfires?

Clore Wildfire Defense comes pre-mixed, making application easy.

You apply it to vegetation around the asset you want to protect, and it coats the area to which it has been applied.

This coating will stay until it has been washed away or it comes into contact with a fire, allowing people to prepare their homes before fire season.

When the protected area encounters flames, the product will start to release CO2 and water, which will slow the fires’ spread, as the fire needs to burn through the coating to reach the flammable material.

This is what makes Clore Wildfire Defense so effective and why it passed testing with Intertek Labs following Cal Fire Title 19 Testing Regulations for Douglas Fir branches.

The last reason it is a great solution for areas prone to wildfires is that it is a cost-effective ground application.

It is hard to find a product that meets both requirements.

Could you tell us about the recommended application process for Clore Wildfire Defense and any precautions users should take?

Clore comes premixed whereby 1 gallon covers 100-200 square feet, or 11 – 22 square meters.

We suggest that you use a garden sprayer to apply the product, which will take you around 5 minutes to apply one gallon.

The liquid covers the plants it is applied to and stays until it is washed away.

 Based on our testing, if applied following our instructions, there should be no negative effect to plants.

Avoid consumption of the product and refer to our SDS for any other questions about precautions.

With environmental impact being a significant concern, how does Clore ensure its products are safe for both humans and animals?

Testing has been core to Clore from the start.

Our product was tested by StillMeadow, Inc. and showed no clinical signs of acute oral toxicity during the testing.

The test substance acute oral LD50 is greater than 5000mg/kg.

This represents category IV in the EPA 4 toxicity categories for acute hazards of pesticide products, which is the lowest hazard category.

We were happy but not surprised by these results, as we only work with chemicals that are proven to not be dangerous around humans.

How do you envision Clore Wildfire Defense impacting communities at risk of wildfires, and what feedback have you received so far?

Clore Wildfire Defense may be the difference between coming home to a home, or a plot of burnt land.

For many communities we work with, the people have spent most of their lives in their homes and will stop at nothing to protect them.

This means they may stay behind during a wildfire to fight it, which is incredibly dangerous.

We want to allow people to get to safety and still have the chance to have a home to come back to.

We have seen communities open to trying our product, and in some cases calling their fellow community members to tell them about Clore.

For us, working with these communities has helped us better understand their concerns and worries.

They are who we had in mind when creating our easy to apply, cost effective product.

As young entrepreneurs, how do you balance academic responsibilities with pioneering in the wildfire defense industry, and what are your future plans for Clore?

If you want something badly enough, you will stop at nothing to achieve it.

This has been our approach to balancing school and Clore.

Our key is time management.

 We schedule out our days and make sure that when we work, we have clear goals of what we want to achieve.

A clear plan has allowed us to get to where we are and will lead Clore into the future.

We believe that what Clore offers is so important that it needs to continue regardless of academic pursuits.

How this looks in the future is unknown at the current moment, but we have been exploring all paths and will do what we believe is best for Clore.

Lastly, what advice would you give to young individuals inspired to create solutions for pressing environmental challenges?

I would say that it is better to start now, instead of trying to learn everything before you start.

Look at the current wildfires in TX in March! This is unheard of.

Had we waited to go to college to create Clore we would not have the possibility to help homeowners now.

 There have been a million things that we have learned from growing Clore, and there will be a million more, but we don’t let that scare us.

It is important to learn, learn from your mistakes, and surround yourself with people smarter than you.

At the end of the day, most solutions will fail, but if you are able to make one that works, you will quite literally change lives.

To find out more about Clore, visit www.clorefr.com

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