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Mapping The Southern California Fires
Looking for information about wildfires in Southern California and across the California in general? This page will guide you to what you’re looking for.
NOTE: Since this article was originally written, there have been many other fires on a seasonal basis. The original story is below. For the latest fires that may have brought you to this page, see this fire maps section of Search Engine Land, where any updates are listed.
I’m back home (my original home) in Southern California for vacation, and to welcome me back, the Southland is on fire. Ah, just like old times. As I was keeping up with the news, I came across some maps online from Google Earth, Google Maps, Virtual Earth, and elsewhere that I thought I’d share with others.
- LA Times Interactive Fire Map: Built on Google Maps and from the Los Angeles Times, fire icons show each major fire, and you can click on the flames for more information about the incident. This is probably the best and most widely referenced resource that I’ve seen.
- San Diego County Fires Map: From public radio station KPBS, covers incidents in the area, including evacuation centers.
- California Active Fire Mapper: From UC Berkeley, pinpoints fires over the past week across the state.
- Google Earth Blog List: Links to a range of maps, including a special layer covering the fires in San Diego and animations of how smoke is spreading (and here’s how some of that was done). Here’s my personal view of smoke moving over Newport Beach.
- NASA MODIS: Shows the smoke plume as today’s image of the day.
- San Diego Fire Resources: Links to a variety of maps for the San Diego area.
- Malibu Fire in Birds Eye: From Microsoft’s Virtual Earth / Windows Live Local blog, covers a special look at the Malibu area fires.
- Wildfire Resources: From Gary Price’s ResourceShelf, more links to fire information.
- Google Lat Long Blog: Both the first maps on the list are mentioned in this post, and it’s a good place to watch in case future posts provide an update.
My, how things have changed. I was a graphics reporter in the area during the big Laguna Beach fire of 1994, with my job specifically to map the spread of that fire. I had to do it the old fashioned way — talk to the firefighters and later actually drive through the area neighborhood-by-neighborhood. Today, interactive maps are easily at hand through the resources of the web. Postscript: A few more resources since the above was compiled:
- San Diego Fire Maps & Info: A nice list from local news search engine Topix.
- Web 2.0 & The California Fire Crisis: From GigaOM, not about maps but instead interesting in noting that the LA Fire Department is twittering fire information. FYI, the LA Times is doing the same here.
- Southern California fire maps: From the Official Google Blog, a freshly updated list of fire maps and information.
- Orange County Register Fire Map: Covers all of Southern California, not just Orange County — but you can expect that OC information will be more closely watched and updated.
- LA Times Fire Perimeters: See how fires have spread and zoom in on key locations.
Postscript 2: Podcast: California Fire Maps – How Can We Do Better? from Directions Magazine looks to be a nice after-the-fact analysis of how maps were created and used.
Postscript 3: See also our Malibu Corral Fire Maps: Burn Area, Evacuation Centers & More post for maps of the fires that hit in late November 2007.
Postscript 4: See June 2008 California Fire Maps for wildfires in Northern California.
Postscript 5: See Los Angeles & Southern California Fire Maps: October 2008 Edition for fires in Southern California during mid-October 2008.
Postscript 6: See Maps Of Fires In Southern California: November 2008 Edition for fires during that month.