Perception and Impacts of the Rice Ridge Fire

SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Swan Pathfinder ran an online survey during the month of October asking readers about the impacts of the Rice Ridge Fire. The goal was to quantify some of those impacts and gauge public perception of the fire.

The Pathfinder received 168 responses to the survey. Full-time residents made up 60% of the responders, 30% were part-time residents or visitors and 10% were resident business owners.

Survey highlights:

• More than 50% of respondents were ordered to evacuate while 29% received an evacuation warning. The remaining respondents lived outside those areas or were not at their property that was impacted.

• When asked if they left the valley due to the smoke and for how many days, 42% indicated they stayed for work or had no place to go, 10% left for a couple days while 15% left for 1-2 weeks. 10% indicated they left for more than three weeks and 5% left for their winter homes early. 5% avoided using their second home or cabin in Seeley Lake.

• As for personal loss 35% reported no loss, 24% said their loss was $100-500 while 32% estimated they lost $500-5000. Nearly 30% lost hours at work or tip income and 27% said they had additional living expenses.

• Most of the business owners said they stayed open with normal hours but closed for a short time due to the evacuation. They felt smoke and the evacuation order had the biggest impacts on their business.

• Two thirds of business owners indicated they lost between $1,000 and $10,000.

• Nearly 70% of respondents said poor forest management was a factor that contributed a lot to the Rice Ridge Fire becoming so large. Drought and poor fire management followed close behind. 44% felt that global warming had no effect.

• Respondents' top three places to find information on the fire were Inciweb, the Pathfinder's Facebook page and the Pathfinder's website.

• Part-time residents and visitors overwhelmingly spent less time in the valley than they normally would during August and September. Two-thirds that said they would normally be here full-time during those months were not this year. 55% said they were in the valley 0-5 days this year while only 2% answered that they normally only spend 0-5 days.


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