In 2018, the Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise, California at an unprecedented
rate. Officials had prepared an evacuation plan that required 3 hours to get residents
to safety. The fire, bigger and faster than ever before, spread to the community in
only 90 minutes.
As climate change intensifies, wildfires in the West are behaving in ways that were
unimaginable in the past—and the common disaster response approaches are woefully
unprepared for this new reality. In a recent study, a team of researchers led by the
University of Utah proposed a framework for simulating dire scenarios, which the authors
define as scenarios where there is less time to evacuate an area than is required.
The paper, published on April 21, 2021 in the journal Natural Hazards Review, found that minimizing
losses during dire scenarios involves elements that are not represented in current
simulation models, among them improvisation and altruism.
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