Brushfire information resources

A brushfire started very near my home this afternoon while I was at work. Luckily, a neighbor was home and alerted me.  I am fortunate enough to have the flexibility to return home, work from there and monitor the situation.  I have Fire Department alerts to email but don’t check my personal email often during the workday.  No other alert was raised as evacuations have not been declared yet. So I have some work to get better alerts. In a couple hours the fire went from 5 to 107 acres and had the wind stayed in its original direction, an evacuation would have been more likely for my neighborhood.  But luck was on our side today, and the wind changed to away from homes.  There are 4 helicopters and I don’t know how many firefighters. It’s looking like they’re succeeding in containment based on the reduction in smoke and frequency of helicopter flyovers.

These resources were quite helpful in assessing the fire as it had not yet made the news:

  1. Local Fire Department alerts – once I heard, I could check my email and see a map pin that was near (but also from experience not ON) the fire location.
  2. Satellite map of potential fires – zoom to your location.  The squares grew over time.
  3. Live tracking of aircraft website. If you click on a helicopter it will show the recent flight path. That showed the water pickup to dump location loop. Quite helpful.
  4. Live tracking of wind direction website – indicates the direction the fire may move.
  5. MyRadar phone app.  @eric has shared this for fires.  For this event, it’s not showing this fire, or it’s in the wrong spot.

This appears to have been a near miss for me so far.  And an opportunity to learn how to be better prepared for next time.


  • Comments (9)

    • 2

      I’m disappointed to hear that MyRadar didn’t show a brush fire. Here’s another app that’s more focused on fire tracking. Does it show the fire in your area?


      I’ve been looking for options to both track and alert on wildfires, but it’s hard to evaluate when there are no fires near me at the moment.

      • 1

        Thanks Eric.  This app does show it as unconfirmed at the FD report pin location (not the actual burn zone).  I had to dig down to find it though.  It didn’t alert me even once I got logged in and provided my address.  So better….

    • 4

      Update: Fire is controlled.  Officially 40% contained and improving.  

    • 4

      OOOO!  Luck be with ye!  Within days of the Level 1 wildfire evac notice here, I happened to look out the window toward our neighbor’s property across the road and noticed a suspicious puff of smoke coming from the vicinity of their barn.  Long story short, an electrical fire had JUST ignited in a corner of the barn.  I notified the owner, who called 911 and between his hosing effort and rapid response from the fire dept, the potential tragedy ended up “not being worth turning in to the insurance company”.  They have numerous wooden structures and are situated right on the edge of deep forest. 

      There was a psychological lesson in this for me, about not thinking straight in the face of a potential crisis, and not delaying action because your neighbor might think you’re nosy if you call and tell him his barn may be on fire!

      • 2

        I’d love “nosy” neighbors like you looking over my stuff, and I’m sure your neighbor is grateful for you too!

        Don’t assume that they owner knows about it, that someone else has called it in, or feel like you are bothering someone and being nosy. Barb didn’t think any of these things and she saved the day!

        Another thought that came to mind with this, look for a SUPER loud fire alarm and place those in barns and sheds. I wouldn’t have thought to do that before your post but now am going to. You might not be able to hear it from inside your house, but if you were in the barn or out in the yard, that could be some level of protection you could use. 

        Store fire extinguishers outside of outbuildings as well.

      • 3

        I’ve often been the first to call 911 when there were hundreds of people who saw the same thing I did. Don’t assume someone else will call. Far too many people are assuming that someone else will do it.

      • 3

        I wouldn’t call it nosy if you’re calling the home owner.  It’s community prudence.  (This incident is building more of that community 🙂 ) Would you want the same call if the tables were turned?   What is probably offensive is to call 911 without trying the neighbor first.  Both the homeowner and FD would be annoyed if it turned out to be poor BBQ cooking skills making all that smoke.  

      • 3

        Alicia, the very fact that I’ve never seen so much as a smokey barbecue, and certainly not a brush pile burn from that direction was what caused me to worry! And to add even more irony to the timing of glancing over that way at that instant, we had JUST exchanged new cell phone numbers about a week prior!  They had disconnected their land line.

    • 4

      And just for fun.  Why I personally think palm trees are a bad idea in Southern California.  They are only native in Palm Springs.   I think this was from the heat of a car fire.  I’ve seen a lone palm ablaze in the middle of a neighborhood during the Merek fire that was caught by blowing embers.  Couldn’t find that image