To keep the more than 6,000 firefighters battling San Diego’s Cedar Fire, numerous public and private organizations had joined together to map the blaze. Detailed maps containing information on roads, buildings, water sources, drop points, staging areas, and fire lines were generated, forming the basis for key decision making on the front lines. As the fire spread rapidly, consuming more than 140,000 acres in its first day, getting accurate data to firefighters was a massive task.
In creating these essential maps, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) and their contractor NorthTree Fire International received support from ESRI, San Diego Geographic Information Source (SanGIS), Space Imaging, Hewlett-Packard, county of San Diego, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). With updated maps needed twice daily and multiple information sources to integrate, the CDF geographic information system (GIS) team was thankful for the time and resources coming in from numerous local organizations and from GIS professionals working around the clock, their own homes at risk from the devastating blaze.
The most critical maps were produced for daily briefings given to firefighters in the early morning. These maps detailed which section of the fire line each division was responsible for as well as other critical data such as supply drop points and water sources. In addition, GIS team members created numerous informational resources for the fire’s incident command, allowing decision makers to plan effectively in their allocation of hand crews, bulldozers, engines, aircraft, and other assets.