Chasing Fire

Mapping wildfire devastation in California


Southern California’s October wildfire blitz has begun to subside, but a statewide summary from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) reports at least six fires remain active in the North. This month’s fires are the deadliest in state history, claiming 42 lives and causing more than $1 billion in damages in Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties.

The LA Times measures the total number of destroyed residential properties at 8,400, and has released regional maps of the destruction throughout Santa Rosa in neighborhoods including Vichy Springs, Kenwood, Coffey Park, and more. Much of the data visualized in these maps was collected by the 11,000 firefighters onsite.

For a more comprehensive look at the scope of the disasters, CAL FIRE and Esri collaborated on an interactive damage assessment map in Esri’s ArcGIS platform. The map marks the perimeter of individual fires in red and indicates destroyed and damaged homes with red and yellow icons. For residents displaced by the fires, the map includes resources on debris removal, FEMA benefits, and road closures, as well as safety guides for returning to damaged properties. Firefighters are updating the map data in real time, and their findings are relayed to affected counties and cities to help inform their response strategies.

Napa County’s vineyards are among the most severely damaged areas. Recent imagery from NASA’s Terra satellite shows the scars suffered in the heart of the state’s wine country. Live vegetation is crimson while scorched areas are dark grey.

CAL FIRE projects the remaining fires to be fully contained soon.

Photo Credit: NASA

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