Fires are a necessary and natural part of the bush lifecycle, but recent years have seen a drastic increase in the number and severity of uncontrolled wildfires during the summer months — ask any Australian or Californian about that. Thankfully, new tools in Google Search and Google Maps can keep you up-to-date on the status of nearby fires and help you stay safe. Here’s a quick guide on how to use them.
Finding and tracking nearby fires in Google Search and Google Maps
You can now get up-to-the-hour information for any wildfire with Google Search or Google Maps on iOS, Android and the web. Just search for the fire by name or region to see Google SOS alerts that include emergency contact info, recent news stories, social media alerts and links to open the fire’s location in Google Maps.
The reddish areas shown on the map outline the fire’s approximate area, and are continually updated every hour based on satellite information.
Google Maps will also help you navigate around road closures caused by nearby fires, which is important for anyone travelling through burn areas or — god forbid — planning a hasty evacuation.
Tracking fires with Google’s Crisis Map
Aside from Google Maps and Google search, Google also has a dedicated crisis map website specifically for tracking fires. The map displays:
- Areas on “watch” (pink) or “warning” (red) for new wildfires.
- Ongoing national and local burn information based on InciWeb’s data (You can click/tap on a burn from the map to see the latest updates on containment level).
- Alerts for areas at risk of fire, unsafe air quality, and other hazards as per government agencies
- Traffic conditions via Google Maps.
All of this is essential data during fire season, but it’s mostly surface-level stuff. Google recommends using Google Search or Google Maps instead if you’re looking for detailed reports on any specific fires.