Playing with Fire (Data) 3

I’ve been digging further into the fire data from my last post (here and here), trying to see if there is a pattern that might explain the large number of Riverside County fires in 2007.

Here are some descriptive numbers.  Of the 955 fires in Riverside County during 2007:

932 (97.6%) of were unnamed.  The vast majority of fires in the data set have names.  But many of these riverside fires do not.  This is unusual.  Only four Riverside fires in other years were unnamed.   However, 2007 had the largest number of unnamed fires across the state (2529/3211, 78.8%)

933 (97.7%) burned 1 acre or less.  The average percentage of such fires for Riverside across all other years was 67.5%.  Statewide, 2007 had a relatively high percentage of fires that burned 1 acre or less (88.6%, 84.8% without Riverside), but not the highest (1976: 89.6%).  Note that most (92.5%), but not not all of these fires were unnamed.

A total of 2721 acres was burned.  For all other years, the average total acreage burned in Riverside was 14,902 acres.  Across the state, a total of 648,614 acres were burned in 2007. This was the largest annual total in the data set.

By comparison, San Diego County had the largest total area burned in 2007 with 453,447 acres burned by 172 fires.  Santa Clara County had the largest average fire size, with 10 fires averaging 9,552 acres each.

This chart shows how much of an outlier the number of fires in Riverside is.  The next highest fire count was for San Diego County in 1998 (424 fires).

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Playing with Fire (Data) 2

I’ve been doing some more playing with the fire data from my last post to try and identify some aspect of the data that might help explain the pattern. My first step was to localize the fire data to specific counties. This information does not exist in the original data set, but it does contain latitudes and longitudes. I was able to map these latitudes and longitudes to a specific California county using the over function in R (from the sp package).

Looking at a choropleth map for 2007 shows that Riverside County had a significant number of fires, almost a third of the of fires that took place in California that year.

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Playing with Fire (Data)

Inspired by a post on Nathan Yau’s excellent data visualization blog Flowing Data, showing a calendar view of fatal accidents, I thought I try creating a calendar map with some wildfire data I have been playing with (available from NIFC). This data set includes fire data going back to 1972.

Starting with R calendar map code by Paul Bleicher, I created plots of fires in California for various years.


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