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Title: Little Bear Fire Summary Report

Author: McCaffrey, Sarah; Stidham, Melanie; Brenkert-Smith, Hannah.;

Date: 2013

Source: Res. Note NRS-RN-178. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 18 p

Publication Series: Research Note (RN)

Description: In June 2012, immediately after the Little Bear Fire burned outside Ruidoso, New Mexico, a team of researchers interviewed fire managers, local personnel, and residents to understand perceptions of the event itself, communication, evacuation, and pre-fire preparedness. The intensity of fire behavior and resulting loss of 242 homes made this a complex fire with a complex social response. While most of the people we spoke with thought the fire was managed well despite difficult biophysical circumstances, some held the perspective that the fire could have been extinguished sooner. One of the most agreed-upon successful aspects of the fire was that everyone was evacuated with no injuries and no lives lost, despite the rapid fire spread in an area with numerous houses and limited access. Notifying individuals of house loss and getting people back into their neighborhoods in a timely manner were the two issues most frequently identified as areas needing improvement. Interagency and intra-agency communication were universally highly regarded by federal fire personnel and local emergency responders. These two groups also perceived communication with the public to have been successful. However, members of the public we spoke with thought there were some significant communication issues and wanted certain information sooner and more frequently.

Keywords: wildfire, emergency response, evacuation, wildland-urban interface, social dynamics, fire management, communication

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McCaffrey, Sarah; Stidham, Melanie; Brenkert-Smith, Hannah. 2013. Little Bear Fire Summary Report. Res. Note NRS-RN-178. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 18 p.


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