Data + Design Project

Visualizing the Fires of Yosemite: Interactive Graphics, Maps, and Photos

Saturday 09.14.2013 , Posted by

2013 09 13 yosemitie npr
(Image source: NPR)

Nearly 400 square miles have burned as a result of an August 17th campfire that went awry.  After three and a half weeks of battling the blaze, the wildfire is now 80% contained, and costs estimates are totaling $96.2 million. The LA Times reports, “The blaze has destroyed at least 11 homes and 97 outbuildings, according to the Forest Service. More than 3,000 firefighters were battling the blaze.”

See Also One Hot Year: Visualizing US Fires in 2012

OpenDataCity developed an interactive graphic that visualizes the fire’s spread. To offer some context, you can compare the size of the fire to Manhattan, Sacramento, and Berlin by clicking on the city names at the bottom of the graphic.

Made by OpenDataCity supported by

NASA tracked the fire in a very different way.  They used infrared imaging to look at the fire from space. The image below shows the fire in white and the outline of Yosemite in yellow.  NASA explained, “The brightest, most intense parts of the fire glow white. Pale gray smoke streams away, generally to the north.”

2013 09 13 yosemitie nasa

Although these visualizations can help us to understand the geography of the fire, photos taken at ground level add another layer of understanding.

(Image Source: LA Times)

2013 09 13 yosemitie euronews
(Image Source: Euronews/Reuters)

2013 09 13 yosemitie yahoo
(Image source: Yahoo/ AP)

2013 09 13 yosemitie hollywood
(Image Source: Highlight Hollywood/ Gene Page)

Western Wildfires Yosemite
(Image source: NY Post/ AP)

Steph Guinan

Written by Steph Guinan

Steph is a writer and data visualization designer living in Asheville, NC. She loves collaborating on projects that involve spreadsheets, graphs, and interesting data sets. Although she enjoys the many butterflies and hummingbirds that fly past her office window, she does not track their activity in a spreadsheet. Keep up with her projects at

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  1. Great Photos taken from the dangerous location.

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