CALIFORNIA, (KTXL) — In 2021, California had over 8,000 wildfires across the state, each with a different name.
So what goes into naming wildfires to make sure that units and resources are sent to the right place?
The answer is somewhat simple and straightforward, when a unit responds to the scene they look for the clearest geographical locator that will make it easy to locate the initial point of the fire, according to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie.
Heggie said that roadways, campsites, waterways, mountains and other notable geographical icons can be used.
One of the most devastating fires in recent history was the Camp Fire, which devastated the town of Paradise in 2018. The fire broke out along Camp Creek Road, hence the name Camp Fire.
When multiple fires occur in one area and eventually join together, this larger fire becomes what is known as a complex fire.
These larger fires have a similar naming process.
In 2020, when the Warnella Fire, Waddell Fire and three other fires grew and came in close contact with each other in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties, the resulting complex fire was named the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, after the CAL FIRE unit that monitors the area and the cause of the fire.
Using the unit name served as a locator as the fire was burning throughout both Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.
A unit name is not always used as the locator. If a fire is located along the coast it could be named the Coastal Complex Fire, with Coastal serving as the locator.
This naming process may seem extremely simple, but it is effective in quickly allowing firefighters to place the location of a fire and start putting out.