In Sierra Leone, the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak occurred with substantial differences between districts with someone even not affected. To monitor the epidemic, a community event-based surveillance system was set up, collecting data into the Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (VHF) database. We analysed the VHF database of Tonkolili district to describe the epidemiology of the EVD outbreak during July 2014–June 2015 (data availability). Multivariable analysis was used to identify risk factors for EVD, fatal EVD and barriers to healthcare access, by comparing EVD-positive vs. EVD-negative cases. Key-performance indicators for EVD response were also measured. Overall, 454 EVD-positive cases were reported. At multivariable analysis, the odds of EVD was higher among those reporting contacts with an EVD-positive/suspected case (odds ratio (OR) 2.47; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.44–2.50; P < 0.01) and those attending funeral (OR 1.02; 95% CI 1.01–1.04; P < 0.01). EVD cases from Kunike chiefdom had a lower odds of death (OR 0.22; 95% CI 0.08–0.44; P < 0.01) and were also more likely to be hospitalised (OR 2.34; 95% CI 1.23–4.57; P < 0.05). Only 25.1% of alerts were generated within 1 day from symptom onset. EVD preparedness and response plans for Tonkolili should include social-mobilisation activities targeting Ebola/knowledge-attitudes-practice during funeral attendance, to avoid contact with suspected cases and to increase awareness on EVD symptoms, in order to reduce delays between symptom onset to alert generation and consequently improve the outbreak-response promptness.