California Fire Perimeters (1898-2019)

May 6, 2010 (Last modified Aug 20, 2021)

Provides a reasonable view of the spatial distribution of past large fires. Due to missing perimeters (see Use Limitations) this layer should be used carefully for statistical analysis and reporting.

Version Information:

The data is updated yearly with fire perimeters from the previous fire season.

Fire19_1 was released April 30th, 2020. Three hundred twelve wildfires from the 2019 fire season were added to the database (4 from the NPS, 180 from CAL FIRE, 68 from USFS, 21 from BLM).


CAL FIRE (including c ontract counties) , USDA Forest Service Region 5, USDI Bureau of Land Managment & National Park Service, and other agencies jointly maintain a comprehensive fire perimeter GIS layer for public and private lands throughout the state. The data covers fires back to 1878. Detailed metadata is provided for each individual feature class.


Historic Update Information:

Fire18_1 was released May 1st, 2019. 413 wildfires from the 2018 fire season were added to the database. There are two fires on BIA managed land that do not have 3 letter code identifiers and thus "Unit" was left blank. A hand drawn perimeter of the 1990 San Juan Canyon fire in BEU was submitted by a fire fighter who worked on the fire. The perimeter of the Thomas fire of 2017 was replaced this year by one collected by SBC that is based on someone walking some parts of the perimeter for better accuracy.

Fire17_1 was released April 13th, 2018. 612 wildfires from the 2017 fire season were added to the database. Three USFS wildfires from previous years were also added (1 from 2014, and 2 from 2016). Attributes from 3 USFS wildfires were also corrected (Willow 2015, Gilman and Meadow 2016). Two new USFS Forest were added to the domain list of Units (Rogue River-Siskiyou NF & Fremont NF).The Barry Point Fire is now attributed to the Rogue River-Siskiyou, previoulsy it was attributed to other (as a unit). There are two fires for 2018 already in the database.

Fire16_1 was released May 4nd, 2017. I 2014 VNC fire perimeter was replaced by a more accurate version. 3 new periemters from 2014 were added (VNC). A new periemter from 2013 added. 66 new perimeters from 2015 were added. 92 new periemters in Marin County, from 1917 to 1934 were added. They were hand drawn by the Marin County fire Chief Garber and digitized and submitted by NPS. 8 duplicate fire perimeters were deleted.

Fire15_1 was released June 9th, 2016. The ALARM_DATE and CONT_DATE fields have been changed from STRING fields to DATE fields. In the many cases where only the year of a fire existed (ex. 19170000) the tool couldn't process the data and the entry is NULL. In those cases, the year can be found in the YEAR field.

Fire14_1 was released in May, 2015. After release, the NPS supplied corretions for 14 wildfires and 67 prescribed burns. The corrected data was posted to FRAP's data download page as fire14_1 in late May. An effort was made to ensure multipart polygons were standardized throughout the dataset.

Fire 14_2 was released in July, 2015 to reflect that changes had been made to the original release in late May. Version 14_1 from late May is an exact copy of version 14_2 released in July.

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This is the most complete digital record of fire history in California. However it is still incomplete in many respects. Fires may be missing altogether or have missing or incorrect attribute data. Some fires may be missing because historical records were lost or damaged, were too small for the minimum cutoffs, had inadequate documentation or have not yet been incorporated into the database. The 2008 Lone Pine fire perimeter has been omitted, we hope to include it in the next update. Other errors with the fire perimeter database include duplicate fires and over-generalization. While the data capture process attempts to identify duplicate fires resulting from multiple data sources (e.g., the USFS and CAL FIRE both captured and submitted the fire perimeter), some duplicates may still exist. Additionally, over-generalization, particularly with large old fires may show unburned "islands" within the final perimeter as burned. Users of the fire perimeter database must exercise caution in application of the data. Careful use of the fire perimeter database will prevent users from drawing inaccurate or erroneous conclusions from the data.
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