New interactive map tracks wildfire activity across the West
The Western Fire Chiefs Association launched an interactive, mobile-friendly map this week to provide the latest information on wildfires across the region.
Each wildfire on the map is color-coded, with areas in red indicating where it's actively burning. The map shows fires on state and federal land, but they hope to fill in some gaps by pulling data from 911 dispatch via PulsePoint.
Kim Zagaris is the wildfire policy and technology advisor for the association. He says they wanted a site that could offer updates almost in real-time.
“A lot of people, they want to Google where the nearest fast food or wherever something is, so if you try and Google where the fire is, you don’t get a lot of help out of it,” Zagaris said.
In some rural areas prone to wildfires internet connections can be weak, so they prioritized a map that could load quickly, he said. It can help people know when to evacuate an area or check up on livestock, and he thinks it’ll help inform firefighters themselves.
The association plans to add more features in the next year, like air quality updates and text messages notifications, according to a press release.
“The current climate situation is incredibly scary,” Mark Niemeyer, vice president of the WFCA and Fire Chief of the Boise Fire Department, was quoted as saying in the release. “The WFCA is providing public access to deﬁnitive information around the paths of wildﬁres so that communities can quickly take action.”
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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