D Nickles, , dnickles@yahoo.com (Presenter)


The College Hills Fire burned for only two hours and covered less than 100 acres, yet 64 structures were damaged or destroyed in the wildland urban interface area of Glendale, California. Following the fire a comprehensive Defensible Space Factor Study was conducted to determine the contributing factors for structure ignition. An assessment of each property damaged/destroyed included factors such as roof type, roof material, eave construction, siding material, distance from native vegetation and possible sources of ignition (embers, direct flame impingement, etc.). Other invaluable elements of the study include the radio dispatch log, locations and movement of fire department resources, maps of the fire's progression and photographs of each property; news video recordings were also reviewed. As part of the case study, various GIS maps have been developed from the data collected to better interpret the data and re-create the progression of the fire. From reviewing both the data and the GIS maps the ignition source and probable point of origin on each property can be more readily identified. Subsequent city building permit data has also been added to the original data set about the structures that did not burn. The resulting findings paint an enlightening view of how and why structures ignite and what options may be helpful, from setbacks and construction materials to vegetation management, to help prevent them from igniting.