ISE Seminar Series

Understanding Structural Damage from Wildfires in Wildland-Urban Interface Communities

Negar Elhami-Khorasani.

Negar Elhami-Khorasani

Associate Professor, UB Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering

October 20th, 2023 | 11 a.m. | 101 Davis Hall


Destructive wildfires are now a real threat in regions across the country beyond what was once considered the fire season, examples of which are the Marshall Fire in Colorado in December 2021 and the Lahaina Fire in Hawaii last summer. Existing wildfire risk assessment procedures typically use simulation modeling to predict the wildfire behavior in the wildland and the likelihood of fire exposure for wildland-urban interface (WUI) communities but rely on subjective estimates of the susceptibility of structures to fire to quantify risk. Thus, there is a need to better understand and characterize the vulnerabilities and the effectiveness of different mitigation actions related to individual structure features and community layout on the resilience of a WUI community to fire. This presentation discusses a streamlined model to capture fire spread inside WUI communities to quantify structural damage. Three case studies, the 2018 Camp Fire, the 2021 Marshal Fire, and the 2023 Lahaina Fire are modeled to study the community damage. The application of the model to establish mitigation guidelines and to inform preparedness and response strategies will be discussed.


Dr. Negar Elhami-Khorasani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo. Her primary areas of research are structural fire engineering, performance-based design of structures at high temperatures, resilience of communities under extreme hazards including wildfires and earthquakes, characterization of cascading multi-hazard events and their effects on structures and communities. Elhami-Khorasani is the co-chair of the ASCE/SEI Fire Protection Committee, co-chair of the SEAoNY Resilience Committee, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Applied Technology Council. She is an associate editor of Fire Technology, the peer-reviewed journal of the National Fire Protection Association and the Society of Fire Protection Engineering. She also serves on the editorial board of Reliability Engineering and System Safety. She received the 2021 UB’s Exceptional Scholar Young Investigator Award, the 2020 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal, and the 2020 AISC Early Career Faculty Award.

Event Date: October 20, 2023