Damage by the Erskine Fire, California as seen in Google Earth

The Erskine Fire was a wildfire near Lake Isabella, California. It was only one of many wild-fires that occur in the California region every year (there are an average of around 8,000 fires per year). According to Wikipedia, the Erskine fire cost US$ 19.3 million, destroyed 309 buildings and caused two fatalities.

We noticed a reddish brown strip that appears to largely match the edge of the region that was affected by fire. We cannot tell whether it is a natural geological feature (that for some reason stalled the fire), a result of the fire itself or a result of fire-fighting efforts. If any of our readers knows what it is, please let us know in the comments.

From the aerial imagery the region appears to have very little vegetation, but it appears to have been more than enough to create an uncontrollable inferno.

Here are some ‘before and afters’ of the damage caused by the fire:

before
after

This was the worst affected area, a suburb of a small town called South Lake.

before
after

before
after

before
after

This KML file has placemarks showing the locations of the damaged buildings we were able to find as well as an image overlay from the map shown on Wikipedia showing the approximate extent of the fire.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.






PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.

Comments

  1. You can go here for the last perimeter KML
    http://rmgsc.cr.usgs.gov/outgoing/geomac/current_year_fire_data/KMLS/CACND-001415%20ERSKINE%2007-02-2016%202242.kml
    And you can go here for all of the intimate fire details including Overnight Flight Infrared Heat Sig KML’s, Shape Files and Documentations.
    http://ftp.nifc.gov/incident_specific_data/calif_s/2016_Incidents/CA-CND-001415_Erskine/

    Both are fully open to the public.
    Find me on Facebook at “West Coast Wildland Fire Chat” group or “Google Earth Fire Watch Plus” group. All my Admin Team and I do is report on and follow major fires along the West Coast.

  2. That Brown Line is a Dozer Perimeter Line. Check out the KML’s in my previous post so you get the perimeter lines themselves as the fire progressed. Also anybody who would like to join our Fire Watch Team is more than welcome. We would love to have you as part of our team.

  3. The reddish-brown stain is part of a fire retardant line left by an air tanker drop. They often double cover dozer or hand-cut lines with a fire retardant line. News videos of the the planes dropping the retardant are super popular, but they almost never show what it looks like on the ground.

  4. It seems like google earth stopped updateing historical imagery after Google Earth got a make over in June. They did the same in 2013 when they made the Earth look prettier. could this have something to do with it?

  5. After looking around the area, I found this great example of unburned vegetation surrounded by burned area. The reddish-brown area has unburned shrubs and ground cover, while the white ash and dark gray surface around it show where the fire destroyed shrubs and ground cover. The fire retardant effectively fire-proofed the vegetation. This is one end of a line of retardant that kept the fire from the town of Lake Isabella.
    Here’s the link to a KMZ- http://www.fireimaging.com/fires/2016/california/Erskine/Fire%20retardant%20line.kmz



PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.