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Wildland-Urban Interface Fires, Amarillo, Texas 2011

On February 27, 2011, a fire began in the outskirts of Amarillo, Texas, that destroyed or damaged buildings in three housing developments. NIST, as part of its Disaster and Failure Studies Program, deployed a team to conduct an initial reconnaissance to document the fire event loses and fire behavior. The deployment was conducted jointly with the Texas Forest Service (TFS). Of interest to the NIST deployment was the fire behavior and effects on fire losses of topographical features, structure construction and defensive actions. The two communities initially evaluated were the Willow Creek South Complex and the Tanglewood Complex. Within 72 hours after data collection initiation, the Tanglewood fire became the focus of the deployment. Additionally, destroyed and damaged structure data were collected to support the local and state damage assessment efforts. The Tanglewood Complex wildland-urban interface (WUI) fire was responsible for the destruction of approximately 101 structures including 35 residences.

The NIST report, "Initial Reconnaissance of the 2011 Wildland-Urban Interface Fires in Amarillo, Texas (NIST TN 1708, July 2011)," addresses the particulars of the deployment and the data collection methodology used. Additionally, this report provides a summary of the primary structures lost. A second more detailed technical report will provide the event timeline reconstruction and general fire behavior observations as well as investigate the impacts of structure attributes, landscaping characteristics, topographical features and wildland fire exposure on structure survivability.