I recently landed a new project that involved illustrating an Incident Command System at a typical wildland firefighting base. I was rally fired up about the project, but because it was so detailed and specific I needed to do a fair bit of research before I could begin drawing. To help light a fire under me I became acquainted with wildland firefighting in general. I watched the 2017 movie Only the Brave, based on the true story of the 2013 tragedy where 19 of 20 Granite Mountain Hotshots perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire. I watched a number of online documentaries of some of the most infamous fires in U.S. history (such as Camp Fire of 2018, Valley Fire of 2015, Yellowstone Fire of 1988m, South Canyon Fire of 1994, Thirtymile Fire of 2001) and burned through the books Granite Mountain by Brendan McDounough and Smokejumpers by Jason A. Ramos. All of my self-education really put a fire in my belly to me to make my illustration as accurate and educational as possible.
One of the most important aspects of wildland firefighting is how critical mapping fires is to the safety of the personnel and the success of the mission. If you’re interested in exploring various hotspots in real-time across the U.S., here’s a rapid-fire list of online map resources that you may find interesting and useful: