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How detailed fire maps provide more than just a wildfire's perimeter

Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 08, 2024

Ever wonder how the size of a fire is measured?

According to Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Scott Safechuck, it takes a collaborative effort by multiple agencies from the ground to the sky. Data is collected by firefighters on foot with GPS devices, by planes with heat-sensing technology, and sometimes by drones. It’s then shared between agencies to produce highly accurate maps.

Pairing that information with census data can provide even more insight.

"Understanding where fires are occurring on the landscape and their projected impacts," said Anthony Schultz, Director of Wildland Fire Solutions at Esri.

Esri is a digital mapping company specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. These systems use data to track fire activity, both past and present to help inform future decisions.

"By and large, we’re having more fires on the landscape or having more severe fires on the landscape, and even in the years that we would consider down years, the severity of the fires that do occur are well beyond what they were in the 80s or 90," Schultz said.

The Wildfire Aware app by Esri provides detailed information on the age range of residents, home prices, and even Imperiled Species Biodiversity, with 22 data layers.

The county is also using it to inform residents of evacuation areas at ReadySBC.org.