Georgia Forestry Commission puts Arabia Bay fire information on Facebook

Arabia Bay Fire
Arabia Bay Fire, undated, but possibly from November 12 or earler. Photo: Georgia Forestry Commission

The Georgia Forestry Commission is putting detailed information about the Arabia Bay fire on their Facebook page. As Wildfire Today reported previously, the fire is burning in a swamp in southern Georgia and is expected to burn the entire 5,000 to 6,000 acre swamp. They are using tractor plows to construct fire lines around the swamp’s perimeter, but apparently there is not much they can do to attack the fire directly.

Below is a map of the Arabia Bay fire showing heat detected by satellites at 4:20 a.m. ET November 15.

Click to enlarge. MODIS

The GFC’s last report at 9:25 p.m. on November 14 said the fire was 636 acres, and:

The winds did become established from the SSW this afternoon and even though the intensity did increase, there was not enough heat generated nor was the atmsophere over the fire unstable enough to cause any rapid buildup or blowup conditions. As unstable atmospheric conditions continue for the next couple days it will be something to consider each day – especially in the afternoon. As of 8:00pm the fire had not reached any perimeter control lines but was clsoe on the SW side.

As Mark told us in a comment  yesterday, on Saturday, the FAA cut short an air show at the nearby Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia due to reduced visibility caused by smoke from the fire.

Is Facebook the future of fire information?

This is one of the few times we have seen detailed and regular information about a wildfire put on a Facebook page.  The Station Fire that burned 160,000 acres near Los Angeles in August and September of 2009 had some information on Facebook. The GFC is placing their updates in the “Discussion Board” section. This is a good idea, in that all of the updates are in one place, separate from routine posts about autumn colors, for example. They are allowing people to leave comments, which could prove interesting as more local residents affected by the smoke discover the site.

I can see how in the future many agencies and incident management teams will post information about their emerging events on Facebook using the Discussion Boards feature, which every Facebook “page” set up by a company or organization can enable. If they already have a Facebook page, it will be extremely easy to add a “topic” on a Discussion Board to provide valuable, instant real-time information for local residents. And anyone who knows how to post a comment on Facebook (is there anyone who doesn’t?) can provide updates, without having to acquire the services of an Internet web site guru.

Which do you think is a better platform for fire information, Facebook or InciWeb?

UPDATE @6:35 ET, Nov. 15

Here is a map that shows how smoke from the Arabia Bay fire is being dispersed.

Smoke, in green, from the Arabia Bay fire in southern Georgia, Nov. 15, 2010. NOAA

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Georgia Forestry Commission puts Arabia Bay fire information on Facebook”

  1. I think all of USDA has facebook blocked – for employees. Irony is that the Department uses Facebook itself, with links on its home page, to help get info out to the public.

  2. It’s not a question of which is a better information source. Facebook is the defacto site for modern communication, (communication being information going in two directions). The Federal Govt will only allow Inci
    Web for Incident information posting. InciWeb is a one way medium, only “official information” is posted, usually way to late. The Feds worry about losing control of communication when in fact by worrying about control they have lost the audience hence they have no voice in the conversation that is always being held about an incident.

  3. Except that Facebook is blocked on the USFS network, meaning I wouldn’t be able to get any updates till I get home. I imagine other agencies have the same or similar firewall restrictions.


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