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Fire Maps 2021

Few things grab the attention of people in the Western United States like the phrase “Fire in the backcountry.” Depending upon on your proximity, this is either a call to evacuate, to be ready to evacuate, to be prepared and on stand-by, and/or a notice that your friends, neighbors, and fellow members of the public may be in severe danger. As the extremity of wildfires has grown over the last decade, the public’s awareness of the danger involved with these natural events has grown. No longer part of someone else’s problem, the haze of smoke covering broad swaths of the West now touches all of us, be it a dark orange sunset, respiratory problems, or other issues of health and public safety.

Beyond this is the wide-ranging and challenging discussion of how to manage our backcountry, a natural resource prized for its wilderness and untouched beauty. Part of being untouched is the depth of fuel that collects on the forest floor year after year. Are controlled burns a means of limiting the damage and destruction caused by wildfires? Or do they provide a false sense of security, as fires increase in intensity with the dry drought conditions that now are prevalent across the West?

How do we manage this valuable resource and deal with wildfires that have grown in size, intensity, and damage to both backcountry wilderness and to those who live on the urban/rural/wilderness boundary? How much does society owe to its outliers, and when should a line be drawn between where fires are allowed to burn, and where human effort will be expended to control them?

Mapszu has selected a series of maps created to show wildfires in a geographic manner. These maps provide information to a variety of people, including those on the front lines, those managing firefighting resources, those responsible for public safety and evacuation, for public information and media, for companies and governments with resources in the wildfire zones, and for the general public. These maps are generally available on the internet, and links are provided. We will be expanding the resources within the Fire Maps section of Maps That MatterTM as more become available.

Feel free to contact us at with thoughts, comments, and recommendations.

Up-to-date Fire Maps

Mapszu reviews and compiles Maps That MatterTM as a service to the public, to further an interest in improving the art and science of cartography, and to provide a forum for discussion of best practices in the presentation of graphical information.
The current collection of twelve maps covers global, national, regional, and local wildfires with a variety of interpretations: fire-area coverage, active perimeters, duration, resources, and other relevant data regarding the wildfires, their behavior, and our response to them. Data collection is often in real time or sectioned into per day or longer duration periods. The maps and their compilers are noted, and references and attributions are provided.
If in your internet searching you find a wildfire map of particular interest, let us know. We’ll review it, and if it’s at or above the caliber of the maps in the current collection, we will add it.


Numerous federal agencies are members of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which publishes the popular InciWeb map. This map shows fire incidents across the USA at a glance, and clicking an individual fire incident opens a page with more details about the fire to learn more about its status.

Cal Fire

California is home to many wildfires each year, and the Cal Fire map highlights current fire incidents in California. Use this map to find a fire near you and get important information including evacuation zone maps, affected areas, closures, and damages.

PurpleAir Air Quality Map

This air quality map from PurpleAir shows the air quality readings from the sensors that “citizen scientists” have purchased from PurpleAir to monitor the air around their home. Find a monitor near you and view how the air quality changed during the past week, or adjust the map to show average air quality during the past 10-60 minutes, 6-24 hours, or 1 week.

U.S. EPA Fire and Smoke Map

View current air quality readings across a network of EPA monitors. In addition to the air quality monitors, the map shows the location of current fires burning and the extent of smoke plumes from these fires.

U.S. Wildfire Map

The Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center’s map includes a wealth of fire and fire-related data layers to view on the map. See fires, lightning strikes, radar, weather stations, air quality sensors, and more all in one place.

FIRMS US/Canada Fire Map

The Fire Information for Resource Management System US/Canada (FIRMS) map shows hotspots based on recent and historical satellite heat-sensing data. There may be some false hotspots due to readings of drifting hot smoke clouds, but all areas of active fire itself will appear.

NASA Fire Map

NASA Earth Observatory is continually monitoring the earth with satellites. Watch 20 years of fire observations in this time-series map to see the seasonality of fire observations around the world.



It does not take long before those of us living in “Fire Country” download the app that provides instant alerts in case of fire in our neighborhood, city, county, or region.  For this advance in notification technology, we are both thankful and cautious. How many of us are truly ready to leave behind our homes, our possessions, and possibly more? Even with years of learning about what constitutes an emergency evacuation, sometimes there is not enough time. What do you do if you are caught behind a fire line? How do you protect yourself and others? When is it prudent to leave it all behind and move to safety? That is what being ready is about—the state of mind that prepares you to act in lieu of thinking about options and alternatives. Then you can say you are ready.


Wildfires, though unfortunate, are commonplace in the western United States. California in particular is usually hit the hardest year after year. The dry Californian vegetation paired with extremely high temperatures can cause fires to burn incredibly fast, especially when fueled by high-speed, dry winds. Some of these fires are caused by electrical storms, but many are started by human error.
In these info-graphics, you can learn more about possible causes of fires and also what you can do to help prevent them.

Mapszu is a proud supporter of the firefighting efforts.

As an employer we support our team members who choose to serve as volunteer firefighters in their communities.

Mapszu is actively involved in a variety of volunteer efforts in the communities we live and work in. One specific effort is active involvement as a volunteer firefighter in the Eastern Sierra region of the State of California. Firefighting is a special skill requiring significant dedication to learning, training, and participation in life-threatening activities. As such, Mapszu is especially proud of our colleague who participates as a volunteer firefighter, and all those who work to protect us from the natural hazard of wildfire. Thank you!


California Wildfires

From the perspective of a Volunteer Firefighter.

My experience on the Slink Fire is something I will never forget. Being my first assignment, it was amazing to see with my own eyes how these massive fire operations are run. As a crew of four firefighters, we are such a small cog in this massive machine, with so many small moving parts, each just trying to make a slight disruption to the progress of the fire. But add all the cogs together, and I saw first-hand that we can make a difference.

I am very grateful for the support of my friends, family, and colleagues, who made it possible for me to respond to this call for aid. Also, a huge thank you to Mapszu and John Glanville, whose commitment to doing good work in the world inspires me to live up to those values in and out of work. Thank you.