A Psychological Analysis of the Evacuation Behavior at the Great Sakata Fire

March 1985 (VOL. 3, NO. 1)

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This research studied human behavior in the great Sakata Fire. The fire, fanned by a violent wind at the time, burned continuously in the center of the city for about 12 hours. Although it rained that night, the fire was massive and spread extensively.\r\nThe research focus was on: 1) the recognition of the fire: about what time was it noted, how the fire was reported, and what were the early forecasts about it; 2) the behavior of people seeking refuge: the period of preparation for refuge, the state of the fire at the time, what people thought of doing and how; 3) information: the means used to obtain information about the fire, and rumor behavior; and 4) social disorganization: whether or not there was panic and looting behavior, details about it, and reasons why it occurred. \r\nThe fire spread at a speed of about 100 m/h, which was rather slow in spite of the strong wind. This condition is considered as the reason for the relatively smooth evacuation of people, the lack of any great panic, and the few deaths and injuries.