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Preliminary Reconnaissance of the Camp Fire

Fire Prelim

As part of the NIST Disaster and Failure Studies Program, a reconnaissance team was deployed to Butte County, CA to collect any perishable data, along with preliminary field data, which would be used to assess the need and ability to fully reconstruct this fire. A multiagency team consisting of NIST, US Forest Service, and Federal Emergency Management Agency members worked closely with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) incident command.

Data collected from two deployments, totaling 18 days in the field, were used in a preliminary assessment of the incident to determine the need for a more comprehensive case study research effort. The data included automatic vehicle location data, 911 calls, radio logs, and damaged structure details. The NIST team conducted damage assessments of 132 residential structures.

The reconnaissance deployment team determined that the Camp Fire provided an abundant data set in terms of the extreme fire behavior, losses, evacuation and notification challenges, infrastructure response, and firefighting response. The abundance of data available presented opportunities to better understand the behavior and response to wildland-urban interface fires and to support in-depth studies. The team recommended that a more comprehensive study be undertaken to learn from this significant WUI fire event.

The following data was collected during the Camp Fire Reconnaissance effort:

Damage Data

Damage Data

Incident Data

Incident Data


  • Maranghides A., et al. (2020) Camp Fire Preliminary Reconnaissance. NIST Technical Note 2105. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD.
  • Maranghides A., et al. (2020) Preliminary Data Collected from the Camp Fire Reconnaissance. NIST Technical Note 2128. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD.
Created February 1, 2021, Updated August 25, 2023