Monitoring California Wildfires with Google Maps

Monday, August 17, 2009 at 3:50 PM


Last week, several wildfires sprung up across California. These blazes are the latest in what is anticipated to be a very active fire season. California is tracking ahead of an average year, already reporting nearly 3,000 wildfires.

Located between the towns of Swanton and Bonnie Doone in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Lockheed Fire has burned more than 7,000 acres and destroyed two outbuildings. Soon after the fire began, Tom Moore, Online Editor of the the Santa Cruz Sentinel, created this informative Google MyMap of the area. It is being updated regularly, and has served as a significant source of information for the residents of the area, receiving over half a million views so far.


View Lockheed Fire Map in a larger map


Data for the map is crowdsourced from a live discussion feed and added to the map by Sentinel staff. The contributors get their information from local briefings, personal interviews, and empirical observations. While the data has not been verified by an authoritative source such as CalFire and may therefore contain some inaccuracies, the benefit is that it can be published quickly to get valuable information into the hands of those who need it while it's still relevant.

As of Monday morning, the Lockheed Fire was 65% contained - up from 5% Friday afternoon. We wish the firefighters on the front-lines luck and safety in their ongoing efforts. We also wish good fortune to the local community members whose homes and businesses are threatened.

Jeffery Martin, Google Crisis Response Team