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Goal: Deliver Benefits to the Public Wildfire recovery “hot moments”

A bare tree is silhouetted against a smoldering landscape
After a wildfire, communities can make choices that will reduce future fire risk and boost resiliency. (Courtesy photo by Kyle Kuester, Bureau of Land Management)


This research focuses on community responses to wildfire and implications for future fire risk.


This project offers a conceptual framework for considering both human and ecological responses to wildfire. Social science fire researchers contend that the period just after wildfire occurrence presents an opportune time to examine how communities respond to fire. These responses are important for understanding future vulnerability to wildfire, as communities may adopt policies and practices that tend to lessen wildfire risk over time, or they may opt to repeat the status quo, which does little to reduce fire risk.

The research will be valuable to public lands managers, communities, and first responders who want to understand both the concept and practice of “hot moment” activities. Management implications of this research include:

  • Rebuilding is not quickly or readily accomplished after most wildfires. However, rebuilding and new construction can, in some cases, lead to increased development after wildfire events.
  • Local communities typically invest in enhanced suppression, emergency response, and education after wildfire.
  • Encouraging the use of fire-adapted principles during rebuilding and new development can reduce future fire risk.
  • Changes to land use planning and regulations rarely occur after destructive wildfire.

This research is novel in that it examines how the choices people make in both the pre- and post-fire period determine future resiliency to wildfire events. This conceptualization of wildfire recovery draws attention to crucial windows of opportunity and how responses within these time periods constitute feedback loops that set the stage for future wildfire recovery.

Principal Investigator
Cassandra Johnson Gaither, Research Social Scientist
4952 - Integrating Human and Natural Systems
Strategic Program Area
Wildland Fire and Fuels
Wildfire recovery as a “hot moment” for creating fire-adapted communities
CompassLive Article
Wildfire Recovery Hot Moments
Research Partner
Miranda Mockrin - NRS
External Partners
National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)
Ronald Schumann - University of North Texas, Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science
Alexandra Syphard - Sage Insurance Holdings
Joshua Whittaker - University of Wollongong, Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires
Owen Price - University of Wollongong, Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires
Christopher Emrich - University of Central Florida, School of Public Administration
Van Bustic - University of California Berkeley, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management