[UPDATE August 31, 2009: the new Station Fire (or La Canada) can be seen in new maps available here.]
[UPDATE November 2008: If you're looking for maps from the November 2008 fires (Sayre Fire, Tea Fire, etc.) read this post for detail and links to view maps in Google Earth for better 3D data.]
[UPDATE October 2008: The October 2008 fires in San Fernando Valley can be seen in another map for Google Earth/Maps from the LA Times. Read the details and links to the maps here.]
[UPDATE June 2008: This article is about the southern California fires in the fall of 2007. If you are interested in the new fires in Northern California of the summer of 2008, see this new post about the June 2008 fires.]
[UPDATE Oct 26: Google has posted a California fires master layer you can download showing several collections of satellite photos and maps.]
Yesterday I posted a KML file showing the smoke from the California fires from space as an image overlay in Google Earth. Since then, I’ve discovered a number of useful fire maps for Google Earth (and updated the original story). I’m re-organizing the best information here to make it more convenient and add additional information. Here are the main resources I recommend:
US Forest Service Active Fires Map – The USFS has a web site dedicated to tracking active fires. They use a combination of satellites from space which detect the fires, and combine that with ground-based information to produce the maps. All data points are placemarks with further information. Check out the fire map for the continental US which includes the California fires.
NASA MODIS – NASA’s MODIS satellites are continuously taking photos of the Earth from space. They just released new photos showing smoke from the fires in California. A blogger in Spain has released a series of image overlays in Google Earth showing the smoke from several of these photos over the last few days. Open the “Incendios in California” folder and click on the different dates to see several different views of the smoke. [UPDATE: Here is a super image overlay (more detail as you zoom in) of the smoke from space by Matt Fox.]
KPBS Fire Map – The radio station KPBS is maintaining an up-to-date map of the fire situation in San Diego. You can view the map in either Google Maps (see below), or view the map in Google Earth . This is an excellent example of being able to use the KML content to view in either 2D or 3D maps (which Google highlighted on their Lat Long blog). Here’s the Google Maps version:
View Larger Map
Time Animations – Google Earth Community member Joey Wade has produced some time animations for Google Earth. The first illustrates the spread of the fire over time from the MODIS Active Fire Maps. After viewing that, turn it off. Next, Joey produced an animation of the growth of the smoke plume from the biggest fire based on satellite photos. Select the “play” button to the right of the time slider to see the animations. Just make sure only one is selected at a time, or that you have the settings set to “Restrict time to the currently active folder”. See post 1, and post 2.