Hwy 285 corridor fire data 1980-2014

UPDATE 4/4/2016: I have updated all the fire charts with the relevant data from USGS. The charts are now in an interactive dashboard on my 285 Fire Data page. You can access it via the research portfolio menu, or you can just click here to go straight to the dashboard.

 

The first map is an interactive map of human-caused and natural fires in Colorado's front range between 1980 and 2014. The data are a combination of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management reports. Hover your mouse over each point to see information specific to that fire. The two colors distinguish between human-caused and natural fires. It appears that Summit County has a higher ratio of human-caused fires while Jefferson County appears to have a higher ratio of natural fires, and Park County appears to have a more even balance. In general, the northwest part of the Highway 285 corridor shows a higher ratio of human-caused fires while the southeast part tends toward natural fires.

Fire data were downloaded from the USGS here. County boundaries are from the Census Counties 2010 data at Colorado Information Market Place here.

I used the statistical programming language R to create this stacked bar plot to show how many of each kind of fire occurred each year between 1980-2014. This bar plot only uses the U.S. Forest Service data.

Fires by cause per year in the highway 285 corridor between 1980-2014. Data from the U.S. Forest Service.

Fires by cause per year in the highway 285 corridor between 1980-2014. Data from the U.S. Forest Service.

 

The second map uses only the U.S. Forest Service data, and all circles are the same color. But this time, there are five circle sizes available to represent all fires. All fires were clustered into five groups depending on each fire's total acres burned. The smallest fires were clustered into a group represented by the smallest of the five circles. The largest fires were clustered into a group represented by the biggest circle, etc. So, although each circle is a distinct fire, the specific fire's circle size represents which cluster it is in based on how many acres that fire burned. Just based on the visuals, I don't see any interesting patterns. Do you?

Because the map above uses Jenks optimization to group fires by size into only five clusters, it cannot show how infrequent the really large fires are, because each circle size must include fires of vastly different sizes in order to cluster all fires into only five clusters. The next image uses the USFS fire size classes to show the number of fires per year by class size.

Fires by class size per year between 1980-2014 in the highway 285 corridor. U.S. Forest Service data. 2002 is the only year when a fire of each class size occurred. Class G fires have only occurred four times.

Fires by class size per year between 1980-2014 in the highway 285 corridor. U.S. Forest Service data. 2002 is the only year when a fire of each class size occurred. Class G fires have only occurred four times.

Here are the sizes for each class:

  • Class G - 5,000 acres or more
  • Class F - 1,000-4,999 acres
  • Class E - 300-999 acres
  • Class D - 100-299 acres
  • Class C - 10-99 acres
  • Class B - .26-9 acres
  • Class A - 0-.25

The third map uses an SQL query to isolate only the fires that burned more than 4,000 acres. For this map I chose the cutoff of 4,000 acres because it represents a natural break in the data set. Out of 2,830 Forest Service records, there are six of this size. Five of those six fires were human-caused. Hover your mouse over each one to get the details. (In the whole data set, there were two between 1,000-3,999 acres, and all the rest, 2,821, were under under 1,000 acres burned) All of the over-4000 acre fires were south of highway 285 (remember that I am not plotting fires north of I-70, west of hwy 9, east of I-25, or south of hwy 24).

The fourth map is an animated time-series map that populates fires to the map in chronological order by month. The animation takes 30 seconds. There is a play and pause button at the bottom, so you can start and pause as you like. This map also uses just the U.S. Forest Service data. Remember, I am only plotting fires between Highway 9 and I-25 and I-70 and Hwy 24.