Climate Resolve

Wildfire in Southern California

Higher temperatures and erratic rainfall have fueled California’s recent wildfires, which have become the most damaging in the state’s history.

The Thomas Fire (December 2017) burned 440 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The Thomas Fire was briefly the largest fire in California history, but was eclipsed by 2018’s Ranch Fire. The Woolsey Fire (November 2018) burned 151 square miles in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and prompted the immediate evacuation of 295,000 people. 

A new normal of devastating wildfires is forcing us to rethink our approach to disasters – and especially on displaced people.

With support from the Resilient Cities Catalyst and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Climate Resolve is investigating how Californians responded to the Woolsey Fire. We’re asking: where did people flee? Which cities and neighborhoods absorbed them? Were there enough hotel rooms and cots in shelters? Or did people stay in the homes of friends or family members? How well has insurance played a role in providing for additional living expenses? Climate Resolve will soon publish a report of findings – and answers to these questions.

The COVID-19 crisis further complicates questions of resilience and recovery. As we face yet another sudden and omnipresent crisis, how has COVID-19 affected the Woolsey recovery — and how has COVID-19 affected preparation for California’s next wildfires? Climate Resolve offers the following annotated bibliography on the most current thinking on how the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing fire-fighting and disaster recovery to innovate.


The Woolsey Fire was the most damaging wildfire in Southern California history.1,2 The final toll was 97,000 acres burned, 1600 structures destroyed, and losses in property exceeding $6 billion. Within the City of Malibu, 488 homes burned to the ground. There is a lot to learn from this disaster. Please check out Climate Resolve’s Lessons from the Woolsey Fire to read our findings.

Pandemic and Disasters: an annotated bibliography

California Wildfire Legislation: 2019-2020 Session

Climate Resolve is surveying current legislation as it may affect wildfire prevention and recovery. Here’s the database of legislation in the 2019-2020 session.

Climate Resolve