Lessons Learned

25 takeaways from the Camp Fire of 2018

Christopher Allan Smith

September 19, 2021

This series, a chronicle of one man’s experience before, during, and after a megafire that destroyed the Northern California town of Paradise, provides a series of lessons that others can apply to help them if they face a major disaster. The following links refer to the articles in which the lessons may be found.

Lesson 1: Accept that a disaster will happen to you

Lesson 2: Respect reality

Lesson 3: Make a plan that works for you

Lesson 4: Know how to evacuate

Lesson 5: Sign up for an emergency mass notification system

Lesson 6: Train like your life depends on it

Lesson 7: Plan for transportation

Lesson 8: Think about your organization’s continuity

Lesson 9: It’s not a worst-case scenario. It’s worst-case imaginable.

Lesson 10: Stay calm

Lesson 11: If you’re asking, ‘Should we evacuate?’ Leave now!

Lesson 12: Implement your emergency plan A. And B. And C...

Lesson 13: Get as much info as possible. Accept that it won’t feel like enough.

Lesson 14: Semper Gumby: Be flexible

Lesson 15: Respect the math

Lesson 16: Not all information is equal

Lesson 17: Bad information arrives faster than good information

Lesson 18: Mind the information gap

Lesson 19: Take care before you share

Lesson 20: Be ready to communicate like it’s 1950

Lesson 21: Lessons for leadership

Lesson 22: There is no closure. There is only after.

Lesson 23: Be prepared for the aftermath

Lesson 24: Emotions breed rumors

Lesson 25: Think regional disasters, not just local ones


About The Author

Christopher Allan Smith’s picture

Christopher Allan Smith

Christopher Allan Smith is an Emmy Award-winning documentarian and journalist. He is the director of the Emmy-nominated series, A High and Awful Price: Lessons Learned From the Camp Fire. He lived in Paradise, California, until the morning of the 2018 Camp Fire, and now lives in Chico, California. Find out more at ChristopherAllanSmith.com.