San Diego, California Fires – See Smoke in Google Earth

California fires show smoke from space in Google EarthThe wildfires in Malibu and San Diego are visible from space in this NOAA GOES 11 satellite image taken today. The image was made available at NOAA’s Operational Significant Events Imagery web site. I took the photo and created an image overlay so you can see the smoke in Google Earth. The image has not been processed for proper cylindrical projection, but it’s not too far off. You can definitely see the larger amount of smoke from the San Diego fires. CNN has also been using Google Earth to show maps of the fires. [UPDATE Oct 23, 0830 EDT: NASA has released new satellite images of the smoke. Here are nicely aligned image overlays (taken on different dates) from NASA’s MODIS satellites. via this spanish blog.]
[UPDATE 22:30 EDT: And here is a great resource from the MODIS Active Fire Mapping Program and the US Forest Service – they have some great maps for currently active fires in various map formats – the one for Google Earth is particularly useful. Check out this one which covers the continental US – including the California fires. The data is a combination of data from earth-orbiting satellites which detect the heat signatures of fires, and ground-based information as well.
Also, there is a fire map being managed by radio station KPBS in San Diego with up-to-date information about the situation there. The fire map is available in Google My Maps (see below), and you can use the KML option to view the map in Google Earth . via Google Lat Long. Here is the map:

View Larger Map

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. I’m not sure if you’ve seen this yet, but the forest service has a KML of fire data here:

  2. I made a better overlay of the fires based on the NASA MODIS image.

  3. Just thought I would add that as I’m watching local live news there is video of a large home about to be engulfed by flames at these coordinates:
    33° 3’29.44″N

  4. We have a ton of links posted to resources and help organizations at: (see important links).
    Please sign up for a free membership if you can house evacuees.

  5. Karen Leavy says:

    found this very interesting reguarding Google earth images.
    There is a company in Australia called Telepathx that is trialing cheap wireless fire sensors in conjunction with Google earth maps that create an early wanrning systems for fire fighters, it providing virtual and real time fire monitoring and mapping services.
    Evidently as with the current fires in California many fires in Australia are started from faulting power lines.
    I looked at there website and they dont talk about it yet, but the head guy must be about to launch this as he is speaking in Dallas next month on the topic.
    Sounds very cool, and could save a lot of damages

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