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Flame and Fortune in the American West : Urban Development, Environmental Change, and the Great Oakland

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Flame and Fortune in the American West uses the 1991 Oakland Hills Tunnel Fire as a starting point to examine the ongoing politics, folly, and avarice shaping the creation of increasingly widespread—and dangerous—suburban and exurban landscapes. In the history of fires in California, the Tunnel Fire ranks as the most destructive in terms of structures lost: more than 3,500 residential structures burned. In addition, 25 lives were lost. Other conflagrations like the Tunnel Fire sear through landscapes in California and around the American West, areas that have experienced urban growth and development within areas naturally prone to fire.
Simon uses techniques from environmental history and political ecology to closely examine the Tunnel Fire within a broader historical and spatial context of regional economic development and natural-resource management. Decisions such as the widespread planting of eucalyptus trees ostensibly for timber and as an exotic lure for homeowners, and the creation of hillside neighborhoods for tax revenue have produced a landscape of increased vulnerability to fire. Simon demonstrates how in Oakland a drive for affluence led to a state of vulnerability for rich and poor alike that has only been exacerbated by the rebuilding of neighborhoods after the fire. Despite these troubling trends, Flame and Fortune in the American West illustrates how many popular and scientific debates about fire limit the scope and efficacy of policy responses. 
Simon reviews these risky yet profitable developments (what he refers to as the Incendiary), as well as proposed strategies for challenging them. Though focused on urbanizing areas around the American West, this analysis is broadly applicable to hazard-prone areas around the globe.
Language: English
TCIN: 51622002
UPC: 9780520292796
Item Number (DPCI): 248-26-5165
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