A variety of wildland fire maps are available, including interactive online maps that enable you to zoom in, and wildland fire data available in Google Earth.

Maps on Inciweb and/or

Perimeter maps are usually created by GPS data collected by various sources like helicopters, fixed wing aircraft that fly over the fire and by personnel on the ground. However, it’s not always possible to get GPS data.  Sometimes it’s too smoky to see where the fire is burning from the air.  Other times it may be too windy to fly or a higher priority mission takes precedence. When that occurs managers will generally piece together data from the best available sources (Infrared data, firefighter reports from the field, etc.)

These maps are usually posted to (and/or as they are available. Perimeter maps may appear on the interactive Google Earth map on the main incident page (ex.  You can zoom in and out with this map, and select a hybrid or terrain view. (This Active Fire Perimeter is also available in Google Earth as part of the NIROPS CDE KML bundle  This map is updated as frequently as possible, however it may not always reflect the current perimeter.

Always check the incident Maps page that you can get to from the main incident page, by clicking on “Maps.” (ex.  This page will generally have a variety of .jpg and/or .pdf maps with the most user friendly data available.  These are usually electronic versions of the maps used on fire information boards, community meetings, etc. Sometimes progression maps are available as well; these maps illustrate the growth of the fire over time.

Infrared Maps On large fires infrared flights may be conducted daily as needed and when feasible. These maps may be posted to (and/or as they are available.

Infrared Data Facts (from

  • Infrared scanners can detect a hotspot on the ground that is six inches across from 14,000 feet above ground. A heat source needs to be about 600 degrees to be detected.   Typical scanning flight is 10,000 AGL.
  • Infrared scanning is done at night due to favorable temperature contrasts.
  • Scanners can cover almost 1 million acres in one hour of flight time.
  • Two US Forest Service aircraft are used for infrared flights (King Air and Cessna Citation jet). Infrared flights cost between $1,000 and $5,000.

More detailed info –

Interactive Online Maps You Can Use to Zoom In

ESRI Wildfire Map – To view an interactive map of fires, visit Click on the icons on the top to select the layers you want to view.

Enterprise Geospatial Portal – To view an interactive map of the fire, visit the Fire Enterprise Geospatial Portal (EGP) at Click on the icons on the left to select the layers you want to view. Recommended layers include Active Incidents, Satellite Fire Detections, and Active Fire Perimeters.

Wildland Fire Open Data –

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) has initiated this project through the nationally used NIFC ArcGIS Online Site. The purpose is to better share maps and data related to wildland fire activities across the country with all agencies and persons interested in such data.

The GeoMAC application is no longer available as of May 1, 2020. The information provided by GeoMAC is being managed by the fire community.  – GeoMAC Transition Information & NIFC FAQ May 2020

Wildland Fire Data in Google Earth

You need to have Google Earth open on your computer before opening these layers.  To install Google Earth visit:

To View Wildfire Data in Google Earth on an iPhone or iPad: Use the Safari Browser to go to one of links below, click on the KML file you want, then Open in Google Earth.

Wildland Fire Data in Google Earth–

National Infrared Operations –

What do the colored boxes in the MODIS layer mean?

The Fire Detections (MODIS) layer (Also available in Google Earth as part of the NIROPS CDE KML bundle represents heat sensed by satellite and is updated several times throughout the day, providing near real-time information.

Each 1 km MODIS fire detection is depicted as a point representing the centroid of the 1 km pixel where the fire is detected. They are categorized by time of detection; last 6, 12 and 24 hours, and all detections previous within the last 24 hour period.

The MODIS data represents heat, but sometimes can be misleading as it may pick up heat from a smoke column, etc. outside the fire’s perimeter. But it can help provide a sense of where the fire is most active throughout the day.

MODIS Active Fire Mapping Program FAQs  –

Other Map Resources

%d bloggers like this: