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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You’ve spotted a fire on the ALERTWildfire website—now what?

Most fires on the website have already been reported and an attack is already underway. But not always… here are some tips to see if you’ve spotted an unreported fire. (1) Most fires that are centered in the field of view and zoomed into are already confirmed. (2) A fire start that is not zoomed into and/or centered in the frame has a good chance of being a new start. (3) Time lapse the main camera pane (see below); if you see the camera move to and zoom toward the fire, you know fire authorities are on it! (4) After assessing the tips given, and you think it’s a fire. Call 9-1-1. In the shoulder seasons, ALERTWildfire is also used to monitor prescribed burns and the rules outlined above still are a good guide in understanding what’s an Rx burn or possibly a late or early season wildfire.

Selecting Geographic Region on Main Map

The region of choice can be selected by either clicking the "hamburger menu" (3 parallel lines) in the upper left hand corner of the main webpage, or by going to the jigsaw puzzle map and clicking the black anchor point (and then the network name in the pop up icon).

Supported Web Browsers

Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari are supported browsers for the ALERTWildfire website. Internet Explorer and Edge are not supported due to poor support of many critical features in Javascript used to power the website.

Time Lapse

Users can request a time lapse of imagery by clicking the play button near the upper left corner of the main pane (below the Full Screen option). A menu will appear offering 15 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hour, 6 hour, and 12 hour videos; click to select. Upon selection, the frames will load (see orange-toned progress bar beneath the main pane) with the option to Play/Pause, Prev(ious), Next or Stop. Upon selecting the desired time lapse duration such as 1 hour, the 4 buttons will appear just below the left-hand corner of the main pane. To pause the time lapse, hit the Pause button. The user can restart the time lapse by hitting Play (as that option has swapped out with the Pause button). The user can also hit the Prev(ious) or Next button to advance/rewind the video one frame at a time. The User can also click on the orange load bar to advance or rewind the time lapse video by more than a frame at a time. The User can also wait for the time lapse to finish and replay by hitting Play. All button actions are valid for replays. The Stop button exits the time lapse option for that camera.

Map Functions

An icon of 3 stacked pages in the upper right corner of the map provides options for camera field view, lightning “heat" map,  camera targets for location services, and a variety of maps ranging from street maps, satellite maps, etc …

Fire Location

First turn on camera targets within “Map Options” (3 stacked pages icon on the upper right) by selecting “All Camera Targets”, or by turning on individual camera targets by clicking on the camera icon, and then selecting the "Camera target on” checkbox at the bottom of dialog box. Next click the Map Location target icon and then select “Pick Location”, click the bar, and then click the map at the intersection of two camera targets (pointing at a fire centered in the two main panes). A Latitude and Longitude value is returned.

Camera Selection

Either click on the selected camera thumbnail below the main camera pane and map, or use the camera icon in the uppermost right corner of the web page window to choose the camera of choice from the menu. Another choice is driven through the map interface. First click the camera icon on the map, and then within the pop-up window, click the camera icon image. Other interesting information about the camera is also provided  such as the Internet Service Provider, county, region, target angle, etc...

Full Screen Option

In the upper corner of the main image pane there are two buttons: (1) an expansion button (two arrows) that allows the main camera frame to extend full screen (or resize) into your browser; (2) a time lapse play button (described separately). From the full screen view, click the icon again to return to normal configuration.

Place Target on Map

The user can place a target (such as a reported fire location) onto the map by clicking the Map Location target icon beneath the Map Options icon (3 stacked pages), then entering Latitude and Longitude at the bottom of the pop-up window. Alternatively, the user can drop a target at a streeet address by entering the address in the “Address Lookup” box and pressing "Go". Once the address or addresses are found, click on the desired address and the map will auto-scroll to that location. Last, the user can put a target at the user's current location by selecting "My Location". This gives the best estimate of the user's current location, and is most useful from mobile devices.

Sponsor Icons

The entity that provides ongoing funding for each camera, installation and software upkeep are positioned in the upper righthand corner of the main pane.  Funding organizations include utilities, federal, state and local governmental organizations, and NGOs.

Gray Rectangles

To provide privacy near cameras located within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), buildings and other structures have been blocked out from  field of view.

Tweet Button

If you think you may have discovered a fire (hint: if the fire is not centered in field of view there’s a good chance it’s a new fire start). First call 911 and then click the Tweet button to also alert ALERTWildfire personnel. This scenario has already happened!

YouTube Button

Interested in seeing recent or past footage from wildfires recorded from the ALERTWildfire network—just click the YouTube icon, or this link!

Partners Page

It takes a village! Click the Partners link to see the dozens and dozens of organizations helping to make ALERTWildfire possible. Thanks to everyone!


Learn more about ALERTWildfire and how it all started, including an idea from school children living in Meadow Vista, California nearly a decade ago.

Useful Links

Real-time Situational Awareness

CALFIRE Incidents
Nevada Wildfire Information Map
Great Basin Coordination Center
Oregon Fires
Washington Fires
Idaho Fire Info
Utah Fire Info
Smoke Distribution

IOU Weather and Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS)

San Diego Gas & Electric
Southern California Edison
Pacific Gas and Electric
NV Energy

ALERTWildfire in the News

CNBC - California’s next Governor hopes to get a jump on fires…
Techwire - Officials continue to expand ALERTWildfire camera system…
New York Times - Spotting Wildfires Could Become Easier…
Press Democrat - Fire camera mounted above path of deadly blaze…

Learn More about ALERTWildfire

Jeffrey B. Graham Perspectives Lecture: California’s Wildfires
2018 Lake Tahoe Summit, Science Keynote
TedX Talk: Crowd Sourcing Wildfire Detection