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Fire Maps

“The human brain records visual information spatially across the neural net of the cerebral cortex. No wonder we like maps so much. Maps display information the same way that our brains do.”

– nobody famous

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a map is worth a million. Bookmark this page for instant access to the best on-line maps available. We’ll make sure that our map selections are up to date to keep you informed throughout the fire season.

Every aspect of wildfire has a corresponding map. Maps make finding information easy, but a lot depends upon finding the right map. National fire incident maps show all the hot spots at once. Regional fire maps give more specific information and some have zoom features that show local topography.

The Predictive Service Section of The National Interagency Coordination Center in Boise, Idaho publishes risk assessment maps, including the National Wildland Fire Seasonal Outlook.

Weather maps are useful during fire season for predicting winds and precipitation. Drought maps show long term information about areas receiving above or below normal precipitation. Lighting maps show areas where lightning ignitions in forests are likely.

Useful information comes to light by using maps in combination. Fire location, winds, precipitation, forest types, and topography (slopes and elevations) together help predict fire behavior. Decisions about how and whether to fight wildfires comes largely from studying and interpreting maps. In worst-case scenarios maps help determine evacuation plans.

Maps showing boundaries between management districts determine how fire related resources are allocated. Maps of wildland-urban interface areas help in developing treatments to protect homes and property.

Maps detailing vegetation types, old growth areas, tree densities, canopy closure, wildlife habitat and other factors help forest professionals order priorities for prescribed burns, thinning, or other treatments. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provides powerful mapping tools that create digital overlays allowing various combinations and correlations of data.

In the aftermath of wildfire, burn severity maps contribute to Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) reports and plans. Fire progression maps are studied to learn more about fire behavior and to assess the effectiveness of fire containment efforts.

Map resources

Click on thumbnails below to link to latest maps online

Fire danger risk assessment from the Forest Service
US Forest Service Fire Danger Risk Assessment Map

US Forest Service Large Wildland Fire Location Map for Arizona and New Mexico
US Forest Service Large Wildland Fire Location Map for Arizona and New Mexico

National fire weather forecasts from the Weather Service
National Fire Weather Forecasts from NOAA

Incident maps

National Wildfire Coordination Group. 2003. "Colorado Wildfires: Up to date information on current wildfires in Colorado by U.S. Forest Service." 5/27/03.

U.S. Geological Survey. Western Wildfire information. 4/17/03. USGS map zooms in on fire events in Western states and shows topography.

U.S.D.A. Forest Service Region 3. Southwest Area Large Wildland Fire Location Map. 4/17/03. Fires over 100 acres burning in Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas.

U.S.D.A. Forest Service. Fire Mapper. Rapid Response Fire Maps. 4/17/03. National Large Incident - Wildfires of 100 acres or more occurring in timber, or 300 acres or more occurring in grass/sage.

Weather maps

National Weather Service. National Fire Weather. 4/17/03. National fire weather forecasts, offices and outlooks.

Risk Assessment Maps

National Interagency Coordination Center. National Wildland Fire Outlook. 5/5/03. Latest national fire prediction maps.

U.S.D.A. Forest Service. Wildland Fire Assessment System. 4/17/03.
National Fire Danger – Current fire danger classification and fire locations.

Other map resources

High Performance Database Research Center. TerraFly. 4/21/03. An interactive "fly-over" application designed to aid in the dissemination and visualization of geospatial data via the Internet.

Maps a la carte Inc. TopoZone. 4/21/03. Provides recreational and professional topographic maps online. TopoZone has worked with the USGS to create the Web's first interactive topo map of the entire United States.

U.S.G.S. National Mapping Information Home Page. 4/21/03. Contains many links to various kinds of mapping information -- both to USGS maps as well as mapping applications created by other organizations.

U.S.G.S. National Map Viewer. 4/21/03. Provides web-based access to layered map data within the coterminus U.S., Alaska and Hawaii. Through a web browser the user can zoom, pan, add layers, remove layers and print maps.

U.S.G.S. EROS Data Center. 4/21/03. Uses satellite data to map national and international land masses, to analyze trends in land cover, and to provide applications assistance.

U.S.G.S. The New National Atlas. 4/21/03. Designed to stimulate children and adults to visualize and understand complex relationships between environments, places, and people. It delivers easy to use, map-like views of America's natural and sociocultural landscapes.

U.S.G.S. TerraWeb. 4/21/03. Terrestrial Remote Sensing (TRS) products to help generate information and data that can be used by various fields and disciplines for research, mapping, exploration, and education.


Last edited June 6, 2003

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