Characterizing Divergent Experiences with the Same Wildfire: Insights from a Survey of Households in Evacuation, Postfire Flood Risk, and Unaffected Areas After the 2019 Museum Fire

Catrin M. Edgeley, Melanie M. Colavito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Households can experience the same wildfire event differently depending on the kinds of risks posed to them, among other factors. These experiences can influence support or opposition for local forest management. We administered a mixed-mode survey to households across three distinct groups with different sources of risk associated with the 2019 Museum Fire in Flagstaff, Arizona: houses in the wildfire evacuation areas, houses in the postfire flood-risk area, and unaffected houses within the city limits. Survey responses from 787 respondents confirmed that households experienced the Museum Fire and its associated risks differently and revealed continued support for active forest management in the Flagstaff area. Experiences, trustworthiness of information, and support for specific forest management outcomes varied across our sample populations, indicating that tailored communication may be needed for households who experience different risk associated with the same event. We conclude with considerations for communicating with the public in postfire environments. Study Implications: There are significant differences in perspectives and attitudes between directly and indirectly affected households that experienced the same wildfire, including varied trust in information sources and engagement in communication about wildfire and flood risk. Therefore, more targeted communication about wildfire and postfire risk and forest management that tailors outreach based on different household experiences is needed. Future efforts to investigate populations affected by wildfire should account for potentially diverse household experiences and consider how that may affect communication about forest management during windows of opportunity after wildfire events. Differentiating approaches to risk communication is particularly important during compound disasters (e.g., a flood that occurs within a wildfire-affected area) to ensure information is shared by the right outlet for a given population as risk sources begin to layer temporally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-675
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Forestry
Volume120
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

Keywords

  • Survey
  • forest management
  • public support
  • risk communication
  • wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Plant Science

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