The increased number of intense heat waves and wildfires that has been recorded in recent years on a global basis has raised great concerns; it is apparent that the projected climatic changes may affect such hazards to a large extent in the future. Each year, wildfires result in high mortality rates and property losses, especially in the wildland urban interface (WUI), affecting millions of people and having devastating global consequences on biodiversity and ecosystems. It has to be considered that wildfire disasters may rapidly change their nature into technological disasters, e.g. in the mixed areas of forests and residential, heavy industrial, or recycle zones. In such cases, there is a global concern because toxic components are released, like dioxins, as well as fine and ultra-fine particles with transboundary effects. Even though international relative policies and fire safety legislation have resulted in effective prevention mechanisms, both environmental and technological fire hazards continue to threaten the sustainability of local populations and the biodiversity of the affected areas.
Focusing on “Priority 1: Understanding disaster risk” and “Priority 4: Enhancing disaster preparedness” of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, this work attempts to highlight the possible health and environmental impacts of WUI and technological fire incidents. To further support its findings, this study presents recent indicative cases from all around the world. The main goal is to gather a number of lessons learned and best practices as a basis for brainstorming, in order to improve disaster preparedness and resilience techniques. These lessons and best practices can be utilized in the future by the relevant stakeholders and involved parties in order to optimize risk reduction strategies, but also for enhancing the self-awareness of the large majority.
This paper is a contribution to the 2019 edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR 2019).
To cite this paper:
Karma, S. et al. Challenges and lessons learned from past major environmental disasters due to technological or wildland urban interface fire incidents. Contributing Paper to GAR 2019