ArcGIS Living Atlas

Map in a minute: Map a fire using ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Living Atlas

Over the weekend I happened to walk out onto the patio and spotted a red and white DC-10 flying overhead. I immediately recognized it as a fire response plane, an all-too familiar sight in Southern California at this time of year.

Looking out over the far end of my patio I could see the huge smoke plume through the trees. I drove out to a nearby lookout, this was my view of the Apple Fire.

View larger image


Make a fire map

ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World includes authoritative live feeds and other content that helps you learn more about the fire and current status and conditions. Follow these steps to make your own fire map in a minute.

Step 1 — Open Map Viewer, click Add, then Browse Living Atlas Layers.

Add from Living Atlas

Step 2 — Enter “fire” in search to locate matching layers from the Living Atlas. Scroll to find the USA Current Wildfires layer and click (+) to add it to the map.

Living Atlas search

Tip: To learn more about any layer, click the layer title to view the item details.

View item details

From the USA Current Wildfire item details we learn that wildfire points are sourced from Integrated Reporting of Wildland-Fire Information (IRWIN) and perimeters are sourced from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).  The layer is updated every 15 minutes.

Step 3 — Using the same “fire” search, locate Satellite (VIIRS) Thermal Hotspots and Fire Activity and click (+) to add it to the map.

Add VIIRS layer

From the item details we learn that this layer represents the most frequently updated and most detailed global remotely sensed wildfire information. Using the VIIRS layer we can visualize and assess wildfires worldwide, including the fire of interest,  the Apple Fire.


The Apple Fire map

In just a few clicks a map of the Apple Fire has been created, showing the current fire perimeter along with VIIRS satellite hot spots.

Apple Fire perimeter with VIIRS

Other tools can be applied to the perimeter to learn more and additional Living Atlas content can be added to provide more context. Here are some examples.


Geoenriched perimeter

Using the Enrich Layer analysis tool, 2020 population data was added to the perimeter. The configured results in the perimeter pop-up show that the area is sparsely populated. See Enrich layer for more information.

Geoenriched perimeter


Historic fire boundaries

The map below shows the current perimeter with Living Atlas historic fire perimeters dating back to 1878. See the California Fire Perimeters 1878-2018 item details for more information.

Fire perimeter and historic fires



The influence of slope is a significant factor in fire behavior, severity, and containment. This map shows the perimeter overlying the Living Atlas Terrain: Slope in Degrees layer.

Fire perimeter and slope

Explore other analysis tools and Living Atlas layers to learn more about fires, or any event.


More information

For more information, see the following:


About the author

Tech evangelist and product manager at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping users succeed with the ArcGIS Platform. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Follow @bernszukalski or email


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