Camp Fire Case Study – Toxicity Characterization to Support Rebuilding a Community


On an early morning in November 2018, a powerline ignited what would become the deadliest fire in California’s history. It began in Paradise, CA and grew to burn nearly 153,335 acres, an area roughly the size of Chicago, IL. The fire spread quickly, burning more than 100,000 acres within the first two days. 18,800 structures were destroyed, the vast majority of them — almost 14,000 — were residences. In early 2019, Enthalpy Analytical was called on to support the critical rebuild effort with the toxicity characterization on thousands of samples from the burned site.


Not only was the effort massive and urgent, but new methods needed to be developed to better characterize the post-burn areas. The characterization was an essential part of rebuilding and reentry for the residents and our reports were used to help bring the population back knowing the area was safe from toxic levels of metals.


Over the course of 6 months, 2,400 samples were run on rush turn around under the direction of CalRecycle. The effort resulted in 440 properties being characterized in order to rebuild.