Skip to main content

The best apps and websites for tracking wildfires in 2021

In some places, the so-called “wildfire season” is now all year round. As the disruptive effects of climate change descend on the planet, one manifestation of its presence is extremes of melting arctic ice, rising ocean levels, intense hurricanes and tornadoes, and persistent wildfires. While in the past, it was primarily scientists, meteorologists, universities, the government, and hobbyists who tracked wildfires, these days a sizable portion of the population now either lives in a fire zone or knows someone who does. That personal connection with wildfires brings online tools and mobile fire-tracking apps into the spotlight.

A number of informative websites help you to track both emerging and historical wildfire activity and escape routes, while apps, synced to that information, let you check the status whenever you want. Many apps and sites use sources like InciWeb, a U.S. interagency incident management system run by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which collects wildfire incident data. They may also derive data from Cal Fire, the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA, and a host of other U.S. government agencies that monitor wildfires all over the world.

Here are some of the high-quality sites and mobile apps we found for tracking wildfires.


NASA WorldView

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The WorldView section of NASA’s website lets you customize your view of any number of climactic events, including wildfires. Choose from a large array of recent events, and then add layers to customized maps that clarify information about your topic. Layers may include a large number of hazards and disasters or scientific disciplines. A featured section lets novices zero in on popular ways to view and analyze the data. A data column superimposes overlays of additional information as you click the various choices. The site is visual and lets you see both current and past information in a pleasing way.

Fire, Weather, and Avalanche Center

Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Fire, Weather, and Avalanche Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, helps you stay updated on the latest wildfire, weather, and snow information. It lets you view where the most current fire activity is going on near your location. With a click, you can see where the fires are. The site makes user-friendly services and information accessible to the public while emphasizing backcountry locations where information is often hard to collect.

iOS and Android apps

Fire Finder — Wildfire Info ($1)

Fire Finder - Wildfire Info
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With the Fire Finder app, you can easily look up information and images of any wildfire in the U.S. It maps fire outbreaks on a satellite map and lets you search for the fire you want to follow. It maps wildfire locations and fire perimeter data, features a sharable photo gallery, and provides fire information from a host of state and federal sources, like InciWeb and Cal Fire.

Wildfire Info (free)

If you’re tracking wildfires around the globe, Wildfire Info gets you up-to-the-minute details about current wildfires and prescribed burn activity for locations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and more. It features Integrated Reporting of Wildland Fire Information (IRWIN) current wildfire perimeters. Though not live, the data is updated every five minutes to track changes to perimeters posted to the National Incident Feature Service (NIFS), derived from operational data as opposed to ground conditions. Thermal hotspot maps by region show wildfire activity in the past 48 hours from the NASA MODIS and VIIRS satellites. The app also includes InciWeb and Cal Fire active fire maps, new wildfire weather and situation reports, CHP incidents, and an aggregated wildfire news wire. New features include a Traffic layer available throughout the app by default that you can toggle on and off. A Location Details option from the Map Tools side menu that you can tap for a quick-access pop-up with the address, latitude/longitude, and time zone of the blue Map Tools pin. A button lets you copy the latitude/longitude to your clipboard for use in another app. A searchable Wildfire-Related Twitter Tables now shows city and county if relevant to the source.

Firesource — Live Wildfires (free)

Firesource app.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With Firesource, you get a live fire feed that updates upon refresh and settles into a scrollable menu to follow wildfires across the U.S. It also tracks user-reported fires and let you report a fire and upload an image of it. It derives information from InciWeb and Cal Fire in real time, providing the fire’s location and a detailed status. Allowing app users to report a fire and immediately inform other users is an essential role for Firesource. To ensure fire report validity, users must take a photo of the fire and cannot access Camera Roll to select an image. Observers can rate a fire report by confirming that it is active, contained, or spam. The updated version adds fire perimeters with information about acreage, containment, and personnel for the U.S. and interface improvements.

Wildfire — NOAA Fire Map Info

Wildfire Fire Map Info lets you view current wildfires, hazardous condition zones, weather data, news and analysis, and base maps. Information on current wildfires is based on NASA’s near-real-time MODIS and VIIRS I-band fire detection data alongside the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) fire perimeter. Data appears on Google Maps Normal, Satellite, and Terrain maps, USGS topographic maps, or NASA Blue Marble maps. Weather data overlays include NOAA HD Weather Radar, Long Duration Hazards, Short Duration Watches and Warnings, and more. Look for updated SPC Fire Weather Outlook graphics and a free version for Android. The Apple version still costs $1.

Fire weather calculator (free)

Developed by The National Center for Landscape Fire Analysis at the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation, this professional tool (still in beta) provides an abundance of data sharing and research. The newest version includes anonymous weather observations shared with researchers at the University of Montana to support research in weather prediction, analysis, and content display. The app allows quick calculation of RH, Fine Dead Fuel Moisture (FDFM), and Probability of Ignition (PIG) based on standard fire line weather observations. The app also lets you archive and share observations via email, Dropbox, and Google Drive. New versions add the ability to manually add Relative Humidity by using the blue slider bar to choose between RH and Wet Bulb inputs.

Editors' Recommendations

Jackie Dove
Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app…
Here’s how iOS 18 will make iMessage better than ever
Close-up photo of the Messages app on an iPhone.

We can't wait for Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2024) keynote on Monday, June 10. During that event, Apple will undoubtedly introduce iOS 18 for iPhones, including the iPhone 15 Pro. The rumor mill has long suggested that iOS 18 may be a giant iPhone update.

Now, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has given us a peek at what changes could be coming to iMessage in the upcoming software update.

Read more
Here’s how iOS 18 is going to overhaul your iPhone’s email app
An iPhone showing the home screen in someone's hand.

We're just days away from Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2024), which means we're about to get our first look at iOS 18. The new iPhone operating system is expected to get RCS texting in the iMessage app, more customization options for the home screen, and maybe a significant design change overall. Now comes word that changes will be made to the native Mail app.

According to AppleInsider, the Mail app is about to undergo a significant transformation. It's getting a powerful new search tool, Smart Replies, automatic sorting for different email types, and more. But the real excitement lies in the app's expected integration of AI functionality, a feature becoming a hallmark of iOS 18.

Read more
Best phone deals: Save on the iPhone, Galaxy Z Fold 5, and more
Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro cameras seen from the back.

Whether it’s time to trade in an old phone or add a new line to your phone plan, shopping the best phone deals can save you a few bucks along the way. All of the heavy hitters among the best phones have deals going on right now, including Samsung Galaxy S24 deals, Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra deals, Google Pixel 8 deals, and even iPhone 15 deals. But there are way more phones out there than that, and may of the best phone deals come from phones with a slightly lesser known name and phones that may be a generation old with still a lot to offer. With so much to consider, we thought we’d chip in and bring all of the best phone deals right to you. Reading onward you’ll find phone deals from Nokia, OnePlus, Motorola, Google, Samsung, and Apple, as well las some information on which of the best phone deals might make the most sense for you.

With previous phone generations holding up well these days you can find even more savings by checking out refurbished iPhone deals, iPhone 14 deals, iPhone SE deals, Samsung Galaxy S23 deals, and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra deals.
Nokia C210 (Unlocked) — $100, was $110

Read more