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Earth, Wind, and Fire: Wildfire Risk Perceptions in a Hurricane-Prone Environment

Newman, Soren M., Carroll, Matthew S., Jakes, Pamela J., Williams, Daniel R., Higgins, Lorie L.
Society & natural resources 2014 v.27 no.11 pp. 1161-1176
hurricanes, interviews, laws and regulations, managers, risk, risk reduction, wildfires, Florida
Wildfire is one of several potential disturbances that could have extraordinary impacts on individuals and communities in fire-prone areas. In this article we describe disturbance risk perceptions from interviews with residents in three Florida communities that face significant wildfire and hurricane risk. Although they live in areas characterized by emergency managers as having high wildfire risk and many participants have direct experience with wildfire, residents tended to share high hurricane and low wildfire risk perceptions. The different perceptions of risk seem linked to several factors: direct hurricane experience, different scales of impact, the local “hurricane culture,” effectiveness of local ordinances and development patterns, perceived predictability of the event, and perceived ability to control the event. This study shows that residents may perceive and act to reduce risk for one disturbance in relation to their perceptions, concern, and actions for another.