Burnover events identified during the 2018 Camp Fire

TitleBurnover events identified during the 2018 Camp Fire
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsLink, ED, Maranghides, A
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Date Published04/2023
KeywordsCalifornia, Case study, entrapment, evacuation, intermix community, life safety, Paradise, technical reports and journal articles, wildfire, wildland–urban interface, WUI

Background: The Camp Fire burned through communities in Butte County, California, on 8 November 2018. The fire destroyed over 18 000 structures and caused 85 fatalities, mostly within the first 12 h of the incident.

Aims: A post-fire case study was conducted to learn from the devastating incident.

Methods: The case study was supported by detailed first-hand accounts from 157 first responders, photos and videos, first responder radio logs, and other field data. Subsequent analysis and data integration yielded a timeline reconstruction of the first 24 h of the entire event, as well as additional observations of the fire behaviour.

Key results: A total of 23 life-threatening entrapment and burnover events were identified, in which fire trapped or overtook people and compromised escape routes.

Conclusions: Seventeen burnovers directly impacted evacuating civilians, 12 of which occurred on major evacuation roadways. These events affected the safety of hundreds of evacuating civilians and dozens of first responders.

Implications: Fast-moving fires may require last-minute large-scale evacuations, such as the Camp Fire. The risk of similar types of events is high, particularly in intermix communities where the presence of wildland vegetation along evacuation routes, likely amplified by local topography and wind, can result in significant entrapments or burnovers.