House fires are the most common disasters in our society. Disaster theorists acknowledge that complex daily living problems impede the recovery of victims. However, these problems have not been described in detail. The author conducted a qualitative study of the disruption to daily living routines caused by house fires and of the adaptation processes victims undertook to reestablish effective patterns of purposeful activity. The data-gathering methods included observation on the scenes of 15 house or tenement fires and in-depth interviews with members of 10 families displaced by fires. Disruption was found to occur in the victims’ use of time and comfort in their personal environment. A data analysis revealed a new process of occupational adaptation. The roles of tasks and activities were determined to be important in recovery.

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