High-tech views of the massive Yosemite Rim Fire

Since the fire first sparked less than two weeks ago, it has grown into one of the largest in California history. New technology by Esri lets onlookers see the flames' path of destruction in real time.

An Esri map of how the Yosemite Rim Fire has progressed since it started on August 17. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

The raging Yosemite Rim Fire is blazing a path through one of the country's most beloved national parks. As of Tuesday the fire is 20 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, but it is still threatening to burn through Redwood forests and ranger stations. What's more, it has left tens of thousands of charred acres in its wake.

Mapping software company Esri has created an interactive map that let's people on the Web see exactly what is happening on the ground in California. This map has three views: critical points of interest, fire progression, and Yosemite fire history.

"Our maps for the Disaster Response Program pull live, dynamic data from authoritative sources and mash it up with other information sources like social media to provide better awareness of an event," Esri's Disaster Response Program manager Ryan Lanclos told CNET.

To create the Rim Fire map, Esri used data from the US Geological Survey, Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination,"hot" spots showing fire activity from the NASA Moder satellite sensor, and shelters coming live from the FEMA National Shelter System.

"We keep hearing how [the Rim Fire] is impacting things like local communities, the power and water supplies for San Francisco, and the natural resources of Yosemite National Park in the news," Lanclos said. "However, these stories often do not show us where these things are located and help us better relate to the size and magnitude of the fire. We wanted to highlight some of these key things."

As of Tuesday, the Rim Fire is California's 7th largest recorded fire in state history and is currently covering roughly 280 square miles, according to Cal Fire.

All of the views of Esri's Rim Fire map can be seen on the company's Web site. Below is the critical points of interest view:

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About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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