Wildfire Progression

DATA SOURCE: California Department of Forestry (CDF) Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP)


Fire: CEDAR FIRE, Wildfire Progression Map, San Diego County

Record: The third largest wildfire in California's recorded history

Cause: Signal Fire

Duration: October 25 - December 5, 2003

Total Burned Area: 280,278 acres

Buildings Burned: 2,820

Fatalities: 15


DATA: Wildfire Progression Map, Cedar Fire, San Diego County, Oct 25 - Oct 29, 2003.


CEDAR FIRE is a data sculpture that shows the shape of a wildfire as it progresses and expands over time. Wildfire is an incidence of natural phenomenon that is a necessary regular process for a healthy forest ecosystem, and at the same time is publicly perceived to be harmful destructive to humans. The Cedar Fire was part of the “2003 Firestorm” event in San Diego County and at the time it was the largest recorded wildfire in California’s history. The sculpture is a data visualization that shows the progression of the perimeter of the fire as it grew and changed direction over the first 114 hours it burned.

The sculpture and accompanying rendering are two data visualizations of the same fire event interpreted into different forms. The drawing of the fire’s progression was originally created as a CAD (Computer Aided Design) model, rendered geometrically as contour lines with shading. This was rendered into a hand drawing in which the lines were inked with freehand brush strokes and the shading is rendered as a charcoal gradation to create a sense of depth.


A time lapse video that reveals the progression of the charcoal rendering process is included below.

Soure Fire Progression Map from the CDF

Link to an animation of the Cedar Fire Progression created by students at Michigan State University



Fire: Rim Fire, Stanislaus National Forest, CA.

Record: The 3rd largest wildfire in California's recorded history at the time

Cause: Illegal campfire

Duration: August 17 - September 24, 2013

Total Burned Area: 257,314 acres

Buildings Burned: 112

Fatalities: None


The RIM FIRE started when a lost hunter started an illegal campfire in a remote canyon in the Stanislaus National Forest just outside Yosemite National Park. The fire doubled in size overnight and within 4 days had consumed 100,000 acres. The fire's rapid spread was attributed to a record-breaking drought, a heat wave, past fire suppression efforts that had altered the normal fire regime, population growth, and Forest Service budget cuts. More than 5,000 fire fighters worked to contain the fire, which cost $127 million to contain. On average four out of five wildfires are started by people.


adrien segal art.design.data.sculpture © 2019 / adriensegal@gmail.com