Fire Technology

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 93–104 | Cite as

Initial Reconnaissance of the 2011 Wildland-Urban Interface Fires in Amarillo, Texas

  • Alexander Maranghides
  • William Mell
  • Karen Ridenour
  • Derek McNamara


On February 27, 2011, a fire began in the outskirts of Amarillo, Texas, that destroyed or damaged buildings in three housing developments. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as part of its Disaster and Failure Studies Program, deployed a team within 44 h of ignition to conduct an initial reconnaissance to document the fire event losses and fire behavior. The deployment was conducted jointly with the Texas Forest Service. 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 h 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 fire was responsible for the destruction of approximately 101 structures including 35 residences. The overall objectives of this study are to establish the likely technical factor or factors responsible for the damage, failure, and/or successful performance of buildings and/or infrastructure in the aftermath of the fire, and to recommend, as necessary, specific improvements to standards, codes, and practices based on study findings. This study also may be used to define areas of future research. This summary paper addresses the particulars of the deployment and the data collection methodology used. A second more detailed technical paper 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.


Wildland urban interface WUI Fire behavior Community fires Amarillo fires WUI data collection methodology 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the institutions and organizations listed the NIST TN 1708. The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Mayors and Home Owners Associations of the Timber Creek, Palisades and Tanglewood communities, as well as the numerous homeowners that provided critical information on both the Willow Creek and the Tanglewood Complex fires. Lastly, the authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Bruce Woods from the TFS for enabling his deployment and Wanda Duffin and Eric Letvin from NIST for facilitating the deployment logistics.


  1. 1.
    Maranghides A, Mell W, Ridenour K, McNamara D (2011) Initial reconnaissance of 2011 wildland-urban interface fires in Amarillo, Texas. NIST TN1708, July 2011Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Maranghides A, Mell W (2011) A case study of a community affected by the Witch and Guejito wildland fires. Fire Technol 47(2):379–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC (Outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Maranghides
    • 1
  • William Mell
    • 2
  • Karen Ridenour
    • 3
  • Derek McNamara
    • 4
  1. 1.Engineering LaboratoryNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA
  2. 2.Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences LaboratoryUS Forest ServiceSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Texas Forest ServiceSmithvilleUSA
  4. 4.McNamara ConsultingCoeur d’ AleneUSA

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