In the heat of the moment: A local narrative of the responses to a fire in Lærdal, Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 2016, 21 27-34. 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2016.11.009
In the wake of a disaster, narratives about the event will be constructed. The paper presents the dominant local narrative of a major fire in Lærdal, Norway in 2014. Based on semi-structured interviews with residents in Lærdal, I argue that the construction of the dominant local narrative was influenced by three factors. First, the strong eastern wind during the night of the fire was blamed for the development of the fire, rather than individuals or organizations. Accordingly, people emphasize why the outcome of the fire was not worse rather than how it could have been avoided or mitigated. Second, as local people responded in terms of their appointed roles and as residents, communications and relations between responsible officials and affected parties were perceived as close and personal, again seen as a major strength in the efforts to combat the fire. Third, local social dynamics and capacities were highly important for the management of the fire. Particularly local knowledge was highlighted as an essential factor, especially as electricity supplies and telecommunications broke down during the night of the fire. Analyzing local narratives in the wake of a disaster can contribute to an understanding of the local social dynamics and capacities that are put into practice during a disaster, which otherwise may be difficult to identify.