California Fire Causes

When we first began working on this project and coming up with ideas I was planning on working with data on voters In the 2016 election. I had found a website for the Census Bureau thats full of data visualizations from the government and I really wanted to use some of that information. Although one day when I was driving home  and one of the cars that was on the opposite side of the road, threw out a cigarette into the center divider that is full of dirt and wood chips. The wood chips started to smoke and catch fire a little when the person in the car that was behind that car pulled over and stomped the fire out. That made me want to look into the causes of the largest fires in California and focus on the damage that those fires have caused.

I found all of my information on the CalFire website. I wanted to find my information on there because their information on the fires is usually the most updated and accurate information. I found a chart with the Top 20 largest wildfires in California. The chart has the fire name, cause, date, county, acres, structures and deaths. That chart had basically all of the information about the fires that I needed. I just took the data and broke it down into groups of causes and added up all the amounts. I ended upon using the information from the Matilija fire from Ventura county in September 1932 because the cause is undetermined and there is basically no other information on that fire except the number of acres it burned.

I had 2 ideas of how I wanted to present the data. One was in a map form, sort of how the Cal Fire website shows the fires. I would have a map of California with the red outlines of the fire perimeters and I would have a little icon on the map like a magnifying glass to show the ones under investigation and a lightning bolt for the ones caused by lightning. Then on the side in a smaller area I would have a separate chart showing the impact of the fires. My second thought was to have a fiery background with trees in front and have he trees act as a bar graph in the image. I would then have the cause and acres shown in the tree trunk and the number of deaths and structures shown in the foliage of the trees. I wanted the image to look like a fire but once you look close there is data in the image. I ended up liking the second idea more and working with that. I used mostly photoshop to create the image.