Google Earth imagery updates – Fire!

Google has at last updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer. Just yesterday we complained about the fact that it hadn’t been updated since July. Thank you to the anonymous GEB reader who let us know in the comments that it has now been updated. It appears that not all current imagery has made it into historical imagery yet.

We will attempt to do a map of imagery updates over the coming days, but it will be difficult as the new global mosaics of Landsat / Sentinel-2 imagery make it much harder. When you are zoomed out, Google Earth only shows the mosaics and yearly dates, so it is necessary to zoom quite a long way in to read the time toolbar to get the list of available dates for a given location. In addition, the Google Earth API is being shut down on January 11th, so after that we will not be able to create such maps.

Today we are looking at a few large wildfires in the US.

Clayton Fire, California
The Clayton Fire started on August 13, 2016 and destroyed 300 buildings.




Junkins Fire, Colorado
The Junkins Fire took place in late October, 2016 and can be seen still burning in the imagery. It appears to have mostly affected wilderness (it is named for Junkins Park, Colorado) but it did destroy 9 homes and 17 outbuildings


Beaver Creek Fire, Colorado
The Beaver Creek Fire apparently kept burning for over two months. We can see smoke from the fire in imagery from July and August 2016.


Soberanes Fire, California
According to Wikipedia the Soberanes Fire was the most expensive wildfire in United States history, costing $236 million to suppress. It was worth the expense as Robert Baird, supervisor of the Los Padres National Forest, estimated that firefighters saved US$6.8 billion worth of real estate despite 57 homes and 11 outbuildings being destroyed.

This red line is fire retardant, probably dropped from an aircraft.

The fire burning and some vehicles most likely involved in the firefighting effort.

To see the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth, download this KML file

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.


  1. How does the api deprecation prevent the imagery updates from working? I understand you can’t show them on the page but this wouldn’t stop the kml files from working would it?

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      The API deprecation will not stop Google Earth from doing imagery updates. It does stop us from being able to create maps of updates as we use the API to create the maps.

  2. “Google Earth API is being shut down on January 11th” – so it will be a farwell job….Thanks for your effort, Timothy!

  3. I echo your comments Ben. Thanks so much Timothy.

  4. So does this mean we are close to the end of this blog?!?! NOOOO!

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