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A Case Study of a Community Affected by the Waldo Fire Event Timeline and Defensive Actions



Alexander Maranghides, Derek McNamara, Robert Vihnanek, Joseph Restaino, Carrie Leland


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a suite of research projects addressing risk reduction in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) communities. This case study is focused on the Mountain Shadows Community (MSC) in Colorado Springs. There were 1455 primary structures (refers to residences) in MSC, as classified in this report. Of these, 344 primary structures, as classified in this report, were completely destroyed and 85 had confirmed damaged, 14 had unconfirmed damage and two had confirmed partial damage. This report on the Waldo Canyon Fire addresses the event timeline reconstruction and defensive actions. Additionally, the report documents identified science and engineering issues related to the WUI. Recommendations are also made on improving WUI data collection. This work attempts to reconstruct the fire timeline in MSC with special focus on burning structures. The extent and type of defensive actions that were undertaken during the first ten hours after the Waldo Canyon Fire reached MSC are presented. An assessment of the quality, quantity and uncertainty related to data used to reconstruct the fire timeline and defensive actions is also conducted. The data collected and synthesized demonstrated the effectiveness of defensive actions as well as examined the extent of ignitions due to the wildland fire front. New concepts of defensible space are highlighted. The information presented in this report represents the first steps required for further examination of structure response to the fire exposure. The information generated from this case study can provide input, together with additional research, to improve WUI building and landscaping (construction) codes and st
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1910
Report Number


Wildland Urban Interface, WUI, fire behavior, community, Waldo Canyon Fire, Waldo Fire, fire and ember exposure, WUI response, NIMS, ICS


Maranghides, A. , , D. , Vihnanek, R. , Restaino, J. and Leland, C. (2015), A Case Study of a Community Affected by the Waldo Fire Event Timeline and Defensive Actions, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 16, 2024)


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Created November 9, 2015, Updated November 10, 2018