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WUI Fire Evacuation and Sheltering Considerations: Assessment, Planning, and Execution (ESCAPE)



Alexander Maranghides, Eric Link


Impacts of wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires continue to rise in the US, evidenced by the string of devastating and record-breaking events occurring since 2017. As seen in several events in recent years, WUI fires can impact communities quickly, leaving little to no time for civilians to evacuate. Numerous events have also occurred internationally, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Greece, and Portugal. One example is the Camp Fire that occurred on November 8, 2018, in Butte County, CA. The fire resulted in 85 fatalities and the destruction and damage of over 18 000 buildings, destroying over 90 % of the buildings in the town of Paradise. Following the fire, NIST initiated a case study to document and analyze fire spread and behavior, notifications, evacuations, and defensive actions to support preparedness for future WUI fires. The NIST Camp Fire case study has highlighted a number of potential challenges intermix communities may face during WUI fire events. The purpose of this report is to use the lessons learned from the NIST Camp Fire case study to present a methodology and other considerations about WUI fire incidents that can be used by small and intermediate-size WUI communities to help develop notification and evacuation plans. The proposed methodology considers the spatial and temporal components of fire spread and the resulting impacts fire can have on evacuation to create an evacuation triangle that can be used as the foundation for notification and evacuation decisions by emergency managers. This report provides communities a path forward for assessing, planning, and implementing a notification/evacuation plan that leverages pre-fire conditions, local knowledge, and during-event information to enhance the life safety of civilians and first responders. While additional research will provide further refinements, specifically in the areas of weather forecasting, fire spread modeling, and evacuation modeling, the proposed system outlines a path for community leaders to effectively work with first responders before a fire to assess and prepare the community for WUI fire events that can impact with little or no notice. The methodology provides community leaders with a temporal context of WUI fire events that will enable them to better evaluate different hazard reduction and risk management strategies to enhance the life safety of residents and first responders.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 2262
Report Number


Camp Fire, community hazard reduction, disaster resilience, emergency notification, evacuation, interface, intermix, notification, pre-fire planning, public safety, wildland-urban interface, WUI


Maranghides, A. and Link, E. (2023), WUI Fire Evacuation and Sheltering Considerations: Assessment, Planning, and Execution (ESCAPE), Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed May 25, 2024)


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Created August 21, 2023