A second paper on local residents’ experiences of the 2011 Karikari Peninsula wildfire in Northland has just been published.
An earlier paper, published in 2017 in International Journal of Wildland Fire, looked at residents’ wildfire risk awareness, use of fire and wildfire prevention activities.
This second paper, again by Scion social fire scientist Lisa Langer and Prof Tara McGee from University of Alberta, just published online in the International Journal of Disaster and Risk Reduction describes wildfire experiences and actions by residents during the 2011 wildfire, and preparedness before and after the wildfire event.
Participants whose homes were in the area affected by the fire responded in various ways, with some trying to protect their homes while the fire was burning nearby and then fleeing to the nearby beach, others staying in their house and waiting to be evacuated, and one evacuating as soon as the resident became aware of the fire. Participants did not have formal evacuation plans but had water sources and had identified the beach as a safe place where they and their children would go in the event of a wildfire. There is evidence that experiencing this fire encouraged some, but not all participants, to become better prepared. Whānau (extended families) and marae (physical, communal meeting places of significance for Māori) also helped to inform and support residents during and after the wildfire event.
This area of the country is highly fireprone, as evidenced by another recent wildfire which also threatened homes and required evacuations.
Although rural fire management responsibilities have changed since this wildfire event (from Rural Fire Authorities to Fire and Emergency New Zealand), this most recent paper along with the earlier one published in 2017 still provide useful recommendations for improving preparedness for wildfires and encouraging safe fire use in rural communities across New Zealand.
The most recent paper (in IJDRR) can be accessed here. The earlier paper (in IJWF) can be accessed here. A Rural Fire Research Update summarising the key findings from the research is also in preparation.