In the book Tangerine, why did the developers build the houses so close to the muck fires?

Expert Answers
misstemple1261 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The housing development may have been built near the muck fires since the developers in Tangerine were mainly concerned with prestige and money. For example, Old Charley Burns, the director of the Tangerine county civil engineering department, was supposed to take responsibility for the safety and security of Tangerine’s buildings, especially buildings that housed young children. However, Paul’s school was knowingly built in an area famous for its sinkholes. More caution and care could have prevented the sinkhole disaster, which endangered the lives of Tangerine’s kids. However, Old Charley often took bribes from shady contractors. He didn’t check their permits or confirm that the land was safe. Taking bribes enabled Charley to enjoy an elevated lifestyle. As long as things looked fine on the surface, his deceit was unnoticeable. Consequently, the housing development may have been built close to the muck fires because the developers only wanted to sell the houses for a large profit and didn’t care about creating lasting and secure homes for their customers.

Additionally, many longtime Tangerine residents treated the fires as a minor annoyance. Their nonchalance may have contributed to the strange location of the housing development. Since they knew that the fires were rarely life-threatening, they may have been more likely to support new housing developments that directly bordered the muck fire zones. In contrast, Paul’s mom, a new Tangerine resident, reacted strongly to the muck fire because the smoke and burning smell signaled an unfamiliar danger. Regardless of where you live, you likely have learned to live with the quirks and small dangers of your hometown, and you likely don’t notice them as much as new visitors do. (Things like clogged freeways or hurricane season come to mind.) Likewise, the Tangerine residents may not have thought that the muck fires warranted any special precaution.