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Construction workers pick up in the aftermath of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs.

In June 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire tore through the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs, killing an elderly couple and causing an estimated $454 million in insured losses. It remains one of the most destructive fires in U.S. history—now it is also one of the most-well understood.

A new NFPA Journal article, “House to House,” in the “In a Flash” section of the magazine, looks at a groundbreaking 227-page study on the fire conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

A NIST team spent almost a year in Mountain Shadows conducting about 250 interviews with witnesses and first responders. They cross-referenced those accounts with radio logs, time-stamped photographs, satellite images, and city records to meticulously piece together how the wildfire moved through time and space. In doing so, they tried to determine how factors such as topography, weather, building density, ignition vulnerabilities, and first responder actions affected the fire’s path.

Read more about what they learned, and how meticulous, in-depth wildfire investigations could change the way we think about fire behavior, in the all new NFPA Journal.

Also in this month’s “In a Flash”:


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