‘We Had a Plan for a Wildfire. We Had a Hydrogen Bomb’

An investigation into the deadly Camp Fire has revealed some of the planning errors that contributed to the wildfire’s fatal devastation.

At least 86 people died in November when the fire raged through Paradise, California, where four roads were the only evacuation route out for more than 38,000 residents.

Now, an investigation published on Sunday by the Los Angeles Times finds that Paradise officials ignored repeated warnings, did not have a plan to simultaneously evacuate the entire area, used a public alert system that could be compromised by fire, and failed to sound a citywide evacuation alert.

Jim Broshears, the city’s emergency management director during the fire and its former longtime fire chief, said that the fire was so out of control it was like dealing with a ‘hydrogen bomb’.

‘Let’s all just be honest,’ he told the newspaper. ‘We didn’t have a plan that addressed a fire that would be everywhere. … We had an evacuation plan built for a wildland fire. We had a hydrogen bomb. … We were so overmatched.’

The Camp Fire started northeast of Paradise and spread at a rate of 4,600 acres an hour

The report finds that Paradise had been given dire warnings several times, including in the 2005 state fire management plan, which specifically warned of an ‘east wind’ fire driven by gusts through the canyons that surround the town on three sides.

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The plan also warned of ‘a high potential for large damaging fires and loss of life and property’ in the Concow Basin beside Paradise – the origin location of the Camp Fire.

‘Heavy fuel loads, steep terrain, poor access and light flashy fuels create…

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