Central Virginia PDC Hazard Mitigation Planning - Urban fire (conflagration)

Urban fire (conflagration)


An urban fire involves a structure or property within an urban or developed area. For hazard mitigation purposes, major urban fires involving large buildings and/or multiple properties are of primary concern. The effects of a major urban fire include minor to significant property damage, loss of life, and residential or business displacement. Explosions are extremely rapid releases of energy that usually generate high temperatures and often lead to fires. The risk of severe explosions can be reduced through careful management of flammable and explosive hazardous materials.

The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas: (a) Urbanized Areas (UAs) of 50,000 or more people; and (b) Urban Clusters (UCs) of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people. There are three urban areas identified in the CVPDC area: Lynchburg urbanized area, Bedford urban cluster, and Altavista urban cluster (See: 2010 Census Urban and Rural Classification and Urban Area Criteria, US Census Bureau.)

Location and Extent

Three urban areas occur within the CVPDC area. The City of Lynchburg is located at the center of the surrounding four counties that comprise the region and is significantly the largest urban area. The current population is approximately 82,000 and has a density of 1,677 people per square mile (World Population Review). The other two classified urban areas include the Town of Bedford and the Town of Altavista.


Urban fire events occur daily across the CVPDC area. The Virginia Department of Forestry provided fire statistics recorded in Virginia Fire Incident Reporting System (VFIRS) from January 2008 to December 2018 for the area. The report contains incident type, rescue calls, severe weather, false calls, casualty summary, and fire dollar loss, etc. A summary of the VFIRS fire statistics regarding urban fire by jurisdiction for the CVPDC area is provided in the Urban Fire chapter of the plan.

Plan Chapter