Town of Paradise Culvert Melts

Town of Paradise HDPE culverts melts

Following the immediate impact of the Camp Fire, one of the most hazardous secondary damages from the fire was melted culvert pipes. During the active Emergency Operations Center, Public Works staff deployed streets crew members and mutual aid resources to begin scouring the Town for potential melted pipes. As a wind-driven fire with low-flying embers, miniature fires were ignited inside open-ended culverts and, depending on the construction material type (HDPE, metal, etc.), completely burned out several pipes, collapsing and undermining the roadway.

The scope of culvert damage may not be fully known until each drainage system is fully inspected and certified. Within the first year of recovery, the Town of Paradise discovered numerous pipes burnt out. Within the last two months, additional culverts have required emergency replacement due to damage that was not identified during inspection. Private roadways and private drainage systems are lacking formal inspections and analysis at this time, especially due to the difficulty in both discerning damage as well as accessing the drains. Future replacement of these culverts and utilities with fire-resistant materials (i.e. concrete) may be inevitable leading to more patching and pavement interruptions.