The simulation of urban-scale evacuation scenarios with application to the Swinley forest fire

Anand Veeraswamy, Edwin R. Galea, Lazaros Filippidis, Peter J. Lawrence, Simo Haasanen, Robert J. Gazzard, Thomas E. L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Forest fires are an annual occurrence in many parts of the world forcing large-scale evacuation. The frequent and growing occurrence of these events makes it necessary to develop appropriate evacuation plans for areas that are susceptible to forest fires. The buildingEXODUS evacuation model has been extended to model large-scale urban evacuations by including the road network and open spaces (e.g. parks, green spaces and town squares) along with buildings. The evacuation simulation results have been coupled with the results of a forest fire spread model and applied to the Swinley forest fire which occurred in Berkshire, UK in May 2011. Four evacuation procedures differing in the routes taken by the pedestrians were evaluated providing key evacuation statistics such as time to reach the assembly location, the distance travelled, congestion experienced by the agents and the safety margins associated with using each evacuation route. A key finding of this work is the importance of formulating evacuation procedures that identifies the threatened population, provides timely evacuation notice, identifies appropriate routes that maintains a safe distance from the hazard front thereby maximising safety margins even at the cost of taking longer evacuation routes. Evacuation simulation offers a means of achieving these goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-193
Number of pages16
Early online date3 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Urban evacuation
  • Evacuation simulation
  • Wildfire
  • Forest fire
  • Disaster management
  • GIS


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