Butte Fire map created at U.C. Merced helps evacuees stay informed

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Friday, September 18, 2015
Butte Fire map created at U.C. Merced helps evacuees stay informed
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Butte Fire information map created at U.C. Merced.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A research center manager at U.C. Merced was able to create a useful tool to help thousands of people understand the size and path of another destructive wildfire burning east of Stockton.

Right now, the butte fire has burned nearly 71-thousand acres in parts of Calaveras and Amador counties, and it's 49 percent contained. Two people have died, and more 250 homes were destroyed.

Erin Mutch works at U.C. Merced and her mother-in-law lives in a fire zone that had to be evacuated. As the relative and her friends grew more unsure about where the fire was headed next, Mutch was able to build an interactive map that uses geographic information systems to track the fire's path.

"So being able to show her the map and say, 'okay this is where things are going, this is where it's spreading and unfortunately you're in a situation where you have to be evacuated' -- was a helpful communication tool,'" said Mutch.

Mutch posted the map to Twitter and Facebook last week and it soon generated some 30-thousand hits. Evacuees also expressed gratitude for the detailed information which allowed them to stay up-to-date on the fire's progress.

Click here to view the map