Wildfire-Migration Dynamics: Lessons from Colorado's Fourmile Canyon Fire

Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Hannah Brenkert-Smith, Lori M. Hunter, Patricia A. Champ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The number of people living in wildfire-prone wildland-urban interface (WUI) communities is on the rise. However, no prior study has investigated wildfire-induced residential relocation from WUI areas after a major fire event. To provide insight into the association between sociodemographic and sociopsychological characteristics and wildfire-related intention to move, we use data from a survey of WUI residents in Boulder and Larimer counties, Colorado. The data were collected 2 months after the devastating Fourmile Canyon fire destroyed 169 homes and burned more than 6,000 acres of public and private land. Although this study is working with a small migrant sample, logistic regression models demonstrate that survey respondents intending to move in relation to wildfire incidence do not differ sociodemographically from their nonmigrant counterparts. They do, however, show significantly higher levels of risk perception. Investigating destination choices shows a preference for short-distance moves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-225
Number of pages11
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project received funding from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Colorado State Forest Service, and administrative support from the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Colorado Population Center (NICHD R24 HD066613).


  • Boulder County
  • Colorado
  • Fourmile Canyon fire
  • disaster
  • migration
  • natural hazards
  • residential relocation
  • risk perception
  • wildfire
  • wildland-urban interface (WUI)


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