This map shows the perimeters of wildfires that have burned in California from 1878 to 2018 using data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Geological Survey. The wildfires are categorized by the year in which they started. Perimeter information from fires that started between 1878 and 2017 comes from Cal Fire, while information on the Thomas Fire and fires that started in 2018 comes from the USGS.
Cal Fire says that their dataset — which runs from 1878 to 2017 as of January 2019 — is the most complete dataset of California wildfire perimeters before 1950. However, the pre-1950 information shown here is incomplete and should not be used for further analysis.
Cal Fire’s data on this map shows timber fires that burned more than 10 acres, brush fires that burned more than 50 acres and grass fires that burned more than 300 acres. The USGS data comes from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, which have lower acreage requirements for recording fire perimeters. Because of that, Cal Fire’s data is less comprehensive than the data of their federal partners, which was used for the 2018 fires shown on this map.
This map shows the perimeters of Cal Fire and the U.S. Geological Survey’s recorded wildfires, but it should be noted that not everything within a wildfire perimeter has burned. This means that the areas shown here do not necessarily represent burned areas.
CapRadio changed the names of two fires from the names reported by Cal Fire. Cal Fire’s names for the fires included a racial slur, so we have edited the word in accordance with Associated Press guidelines and our own standards.
This map and data is not intended to be used for legal purposes in identifying fire lines.