1st Edition

The Path of Flames Understanding and Responding to Fatal Wildfires

Edited By Ashley Kendell, Alison Galloway, Colleen Milligan Copyright 2024
    400 Pages 67 Color & 6 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    400 Pages 67 Color & 6 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    The Path of Flames: Understanding and Responding to Fatal Wildfires is an edited volume covering the complexities of response and recovery issues relative to catastrophic wildfires.

    As wildfires become more frequent throughout the world—and the loss of life greater, especially among residents trapped in the path of the flames—it is essential that agencies in fire-prone areas understand the complexity of the response as it relates to finding and identifying the remains of those who perished. While covering wildfire dynamics, risks for vulnerable populations, and the emergency response to wildfires, this book focuses largely on the recovery of human remains within the context of the overall response to mass disasters resulting from wildfires. As such, search protocols, staffing needs, pre-event coordination and organization, and logistical support are addressed. The scientific basis for understanding how fire will affect human remains—as well as how the level of destruction can be interpreted—is also addressed.

    Recognizing the multidisciplinary nature of the field, this volume covers forensic issues relating to the recovery of remains, forensic anthropology, DNA analysis, forensic odontology, and forensic pathology. The book also includes contributions from international wildfire response professionals looking at global best practices in wildfire response and human remains recovery. Specifically, several chapters cover the lessons learned from the devasting Camp Fire of 2018 in California that led to the deaths of 85 people. The Camp Fire burned nearly 19,000 structures and was ultimately the most destructive—and deadly—in California’s history.

    The Path of Flames is a one-of-a-kind reference that serves as a valuable resource for professionals working in the areas of emergency services, search and rescue, law enforcement, fire service, disaster planning and response, victim recovery and identification, and mass disaster and mass fatality response.


    1. Wildfires: Introduction, Impact, Policy, and Planning

    2. Fatal Wildland Fires

    John D. DeHaan

    3. An International Perspective on Fatal Wildfires

    Gavrill Xanthopolouos and Alison Galloway




    4. Incident Command System: Resolving a Clash of Cultures

    Nader Owels and Jason Hadjuk

    5. Incident Command Role in Coordination: International Perspective

    Damon P. Coppola and Brad Milliken

    6. Law Enforcement Response to Wildfire

    Joshua Brazzi, Stephen Collins, Jason Hail, and Jake Smith

    7. Organization of the Fire Response: Establishing Priorities and the Future of Wildfire Management

    David Russell and Jason Martin

    8. Fire Investigation Overview

    Tom Oldag and Tim Enright




    9. Human Behavior in Fire as Evidenced by Wildfire Fatalities

    Alison Galloway and Casey Hegel

    10. How Human Bodies Burn: The process of thermal damage, body movement, and shifting fuel loads

    Alison Galloway, Chelsey Juarez, and Elayne Pope

    11. Deployment Strategies for SAR/USAR Teams

    Kyle Wilson, David R Bibby, Carla Halford, and Alison Galloway

    12. Search and Recovery Protocols for Victims of Large-Scale Wildfires

    Eric J. Bartelink, Ashley E. Kendell, Colleen F. Milligan, P. Willey, and Alison Galloway

    13. To Be Ready: Preparations for Fatal Wildfire Recovery Operations

    Alison Galloway, Eric J. Bartelink, Timothy P. Gocha, and Marin Pilloud




    14. Morgue Operations during a Mass Fatality Event

    Kim Gin        

    15. Role of the Forensic Pathologist in the Wake of a Fatal Wildfire

    Dierdre Amaro

    16. Forensic Odontology in the Identification of Wildfire Victims

    Jim Wood

    17. Anthropological Responses in Post-Recovery Analysis

    Lauren Zephro and Alison Galloway

    18. A Practical Guide for Implementation of Rapid DNA Identification in Mass Fatality Events: Lessons Learned from the 2018 Camp Fire

    Richard F. Selden, Rosemary Turingan Witkowski, and Eugene Tan

    19. Operation Northleigh: The Grenfell Tower Disaster Victim Identification Process

    Gaille MacKinnon and Gillian Fowler




    20. Demographics and Locational Analyses of Wildfire Victims

    Casey Hegel, Samuel Mijal, Jacquelyn Chase, and Peter Hansen

    21. Demography of Recent California Fire Fatalities Compared with Early California Wildfire and Australian Bushfire Fatalities

    P. Willey and Samuel Mijal

    22. Psychological Effects of Mass Disasters on First-Responders

    Carolyn G. La Jeunesse

    23. Concluding Thoughts and Lessons Learned                  


    Ashley Kendell, Ph.D., is  an Associate Professor and Forensic Anthropologist at California State University, Chico (Chico State). She is also a POST-certified instructor who teaches forensic anthropology and archaeology through the Institute of Criminal Investigation. Prior to beginning her position at Chico State, she was a visiting professor at the University of Montana and the forensic anthropologist for the state of Montana. While completing her doctorate at Michigan State University she worked as a Medico-legal Death Investigator and was a Registry Diplomate of the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators for five years.

    Alison Galloway, Ph.D., D-ABFA is a board-certified forensic anthropologist and Professor Emerita from University of California, Santa Cruz. She has worked on wildfire recovery including the Camp, Almeda and Caldor Fires and taught for 12 years with a fatal fire investigation course. She has edited books on human evolution, blunt force trauma, and forensic anthropology and the US judicial system.

    Colleen Milligan, Ph.D., D-ABFA is a Professor and Chair of Anthropology at California State University, Chico (Chico State). She is a board-certified foresnic anthropologist and Co-Director of the Human Identification Lab at Chico State. The Human Identification Lab at Chico State regularly provides forensic anthropological analysis, recovery services, and mass disaster/mass fatality response services for law enforcement throughout California. Prior to her position at Chico State, she was a Fellow with the Department of Homeland Security.