Wildfire Hazard Mapping
Wildfires, often referred to as forest fires, involve the combustion of areas of forest, brush, or grass. Wildfire danger increase during times of drought or seasonal lower precipitation when the fuel moisture content decreases. Wildfires can be caused by human activity such as smoking, campfire use, etc., or by natural occurrences such as lightning strikes during extreme weather or volcanic activity. Wildfires can cause death, injury, and loss of personal property and forest resources.
USA Wildfires Map - click on lower right
Maps are used to study wildfire hazard in various ways. Maps can show current fire hazard by combining fuel moisture data with current weather conditions. Maps are used to depict current and historic fire events. GIS (Geographic Information Systems) can be used to model fire behavior based on input such as local terrain, prevailing weather patterns, and forest fuel characteristics in order to map local areas with increased risk.
Wildfire hazard mapping in the United states is a multi-agency effort. The USFS, NPS, BLM, NWS/NOAA and other federal, state of local agencies may be involved. Some useful wildfire hazard mapping resources are listed at left.
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Wildland firefighter, San Diego, CA, 2007.
Photo A.Booher. Courtesy FEMA.
Resources - USA
USFS GEOMAC Wildfire Viewer - An interactive fire hazard map viewer.
GEOMAC Wildland Fire Support - Internet-based mapping application created with the coordination of multiple agencies.
USFS MODIS Active Fire Mapping Program - Current large incidents map updated weekly or as fire conditions warrant.
USFS MODIS Latest Detected Fire Activity: Fire Danger - Forecasted Fire Danger for the Conterminous US
USFS MODIS Latest Detected Fire Activity: Fire Weather - Fire Weather Zone Warnings/Watches for the Conterminous US
USFS MODIS Latest Detected Fire Activity: Land Cover - MODIS 2001 Land Cover for the Conterminous US
USFS MODIS Latest Detected Fire Activity: Land Status - Land Ownership information for the Conterminous US
USFS MODIS Latest Detected Fire Activity: Fire Terrain - Current incidents w/ a hill-shaped topographic basemap
USGS Wildfire Hazard - General information on wildfire hazard and map map of areas of the conterminous US that experienced wildfire greater than 250 acres between 1980 and 2003.
FEMA Fire Hazard Page- General information on fire hazard, disasters and fire preparedness.
For state-specific information, contact your State Geologist and your State Office of Emergency Management. At a local level, contact your city or county emergency management, planning, zoning, environmental and/or health office/department.
American Red Cross - Natural disaster preparedness and relief.