SOS Alerts, wildfire estimated impacted areas

What does this map represent?

The red boundary shown on the map represents an approximate area impacted by wildfire. This boundary is not an evacuation zone, nor is it a boundary of burned/unburned areas. The map may also include several red polygons which indicate areas potentially impacted by active fires. If you are in the affected area, please check real-time updates from your local fire and law enforcement agency.

How do we create wildfire maps?

Satellites use infrared and optical sensors to detect “hot spots” or large wildfires on the Earth’s surface. We use that data to estimate the fire’s impact boundary.

Australia 

We make bushfire maps in Australia with data from these satellites: 

  • National Meteorological Satellite Center of the Korea Meteorological Administration’s (NMSC) GK2A
  • Japan Meteorological Agency’s (JMA) Himawari-8 

Canada, Mexico, & the United States

We make wildfire maps in Canada, Mexico, and the United States with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) GOES constellation of satellites.

How often does the map get updated?

With processing and publishing time associated with the satellite imagery, we’re able to refresh the wildfire map up to every hour, although there may be circumstances where there’s a slight delay. To verify the freshness of the data, you can find a timestamp included with the map that provides you the time of the last update. If there has not been a significant change in movement on the outside perimeter of the fire, the map may look unchanged for some time - the date and time provided with the map will show when it was last generated. Please note, this map does not replace on-the-ground announcements from your local fire agency.

How accurate are the boundaries?

Important: In areas where fires burn mostly small fuel, like grass, it may be difficult for satellites to pick up heat. Lines may not be drawn around these areas as a result. In the future, we hope to add additional satellite data to offer higher resolution maps of the affected area.

Australia

Our maps and impacted area assessments have an on-the-ground resolution of around 4-6 kilometers (~2.5–3.7 miles) or slightly higher, based on where the fire occurs.

Canada, Mexico, & the United States

Our maps and impacted area assessments have an on-the-ground resolution of around 4-6 kilometers (~2.5–3.7 miles) or slightly higher, based on where the fire occurs. 

Why can't I find a boundary for a particular fire?

Currently, we can only provide wildfire boundary coverage for large fires where we have satellite coverage and sufficient confidence in the data’s accuracy. As additional fire-relevant satellite data comes online in the future, we hope to bring these maps to more areas.

When does Google show a wildfire alert?

Wildfire maps are created when Google launches an SOS Alert for a particular fire event. Learn more about SOS alerts.

Wildfire maps are available in:

  • Australia
    • Victoria
  • Canada
    • Alberta
    • British Columbia
    • Manitoba
    • Ontario
    • Quebec
    • Saskatchewan
  • Mexico
  • United States (doesn't include Alaska or Hawaii)

What else should I know about wildfires?

Being prepared for a wildfire includes having a preparedness kit ready, identifying local authorities and alerting systems that can offer more real-time information about a fire, and knowing what to do and where to go during an emergency. If you are in the affected area, please look for updates from your local authorities for instruction.

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