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A Case Study of the Camp Fire - Notification, Evacuation, Traffic, and Temporary Refuge Areas (NETTRA)



Alexander Maranghides, Eric Link, Christopher U. Brown, William D. Walton, William Mell, Steven Hawks


The 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County, California quickly impacted the communities of Concow, Paradise, and Magalia, triggering widespread evacuation of 40000 people. The fire became the most deadly and destructive fire in California history, resulting in 85 fatalities and more than 18000 destroyed structures. After a preliminary reconnaissance, it was determined that abundant data was available to support an in-depth case study of this devastating wildland-urban interface (WUI) fire to be better prepared for future incidents. This portion of the greater case study focuses on the life safety aspects of the Camp Fire incident: notification, evacuation, traffic, temporary refuge areas, rescues, and fatalities (collectively, NETTRA). Over 2600 NETTRA observations and data points were integrated into a spatiotemporal database. Analysis of this data used the foundation of the previously reconstructed fire progression timeline to provide important context to the NETTRA components. Details and the timeline of requested evacuation notifications are presented with respect to fire progression. The evacuation timeline was assessed via traffic observations throughout the region. The rapid and widespread impact of fire on the communities complicated evacuation efforts due to high traffic volume, road closures due to fire and debris, and direct fire exposures to evacuating civilians in numerous burnover events. A total of 31 temporary refuge areas were implemented during the incident, involving more than 1200 civilians. Further, 198 specific evacuation assistance / rescue events were identified, including at least 1000 civilians. The unique analysis and reconstruction of the NETTRA components of this WUI fire will help at-risk communities prepare for and respond to future incidents.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 2252
Report Number


burnover, California, community hazard reduction, disaster resilience, emergency notification, entrapment, evacuation, fire, Paradise, public safety, TRA, wildfire, wildland-urban interface, WUI


Maranghides, A. , Link, E. , Brown, C. , Walton, W. , Mell, W. and Hawks, S. (2023), A Case Study of the Camp Fire - Notification, Evacuation, Traffic, and Temporary Refuge Areas (NETTRA), Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed April 21, 2024)
Created July 18, 2023