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Setting Wildfire Evacuation Trigger Points Using Fire Spread Modeling and GIS

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Warning communities in the path of an advancing wildfire is a challenging problem. Decision makers need the most current information available to determine who should evacuate, when they should leave and what type of order to issue (e.g. mandatory, recommended, voluntary). This paper presents a new method for delimiting wildfire evacuation trigger points using fire spread modeling and GIS. Using data on wind, topography, and fuel in conjunction with estimated evacuation time, a trigger buffer can be computed for a community whereby an evacuation is recommended if a fire crosses the edge of the buffer. A case study is presented for the Corral Canyon section of the 1996 Calabasas Fire near Malibu, California, USA. The paper concludes with a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Center for Natural & Technological HazardsDepartment of GeographyUniversity of Utah 2: Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management University of California, Berkeley

Publication date: October 1, 2005


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