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Structures Ignited by Virginia WUI Fires 2/2015 - 2/2017



David D. Evans, Lavern R. Scott, William D. Walton


This report documents twenty-one structures that were ignited or significantly damaged by burning wildland vegetation in Virginia over a two-year period starting in 2015. The structures included all of those that would have been lost except for the intervention of local fire departments or the Virginia Department of Forestry to suppress the fires. The objective of the study was to supply data to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from wildland-urban interface (WUI) fire sites where structures were ignited, including incident date, structure location, type of wildland vegetation that spread fire to the structure, and the first material ignited. Most of the incidents involved storage or utility buildings that were typically located away from residences where landscaped ground cover abutted a forested area on private property. Many of the structures ignited had wood or wood based exterior finish materials. Exterior finishes were burned and, in many cases burned through allowing fire to spread to the interior. In most cases, the fire was spread to the structure through leaves on the ground. In those incidents, ground leaf and tree litter cover sufficient to spread fire and ignite the structures was estimated to be between 8 cm and 13 cm (3 in and 5 in) deep. Video from the 2016 Chalet Village WUI community fire (near Gatlinburg, Tennessee) showed that the same ignition mechanism played a role in the ignition of structures in that community.
Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR) - 18-018
Report Number


Wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires, Virginia, ground cover fires, structure ignition


Evans, D. , Scott, L. and Walton, W. (2018), Structures Ignited by Virginia WUI Fires 2/2015 - 2/2017, Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 24, 2024)


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Created September 10, 2018, Updated November 10, 2018