How Fires Get Their Names


Every year in California thousands of wildfires start throughout the state. In most cases, the dispatch center sending the initial resources to a wildland fire will designate a name for the fire, but the first on scene engine or fire official can also name the incident. Fires are usually named for the area in which they start – a geographical location, local landmark, street, lake, mountain, peak, etc. Quickly naming the fire provides responding fire resources with an additional locater, and allows fire officials to track and prioritize incidents by name. For example during the Southern California Fire Siege of 2003, the largest wildland fire in California history, the Cedar Fire in San Diego County, was named after the Cedar Creek Falls area where it started. The destructive Old Fire, which burned during the same time period in San Bernardino County, was named after the road along which it started - Old Waterman Canyon Road.


Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times                                                                                                          Photo by Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Aerial attack on the Santiago Fire in Live Oak Canyon (October 24, 2007)                                                A charred car is surrounded by smoldering homes along Elm Lane

                                                                                                                                                                                in Del Dios (Witch Fire, October 24, 2007)



Cal Fire News. (2007). Poomacha Fire. Retrieved December 9, 2007 from

Photo Credits:

Boster, M. (2007). Select photograph of Santiago Fire. Retrieved December 9, 2007 from,0,977460.photogallery?coll=la-home-local&index=4

Sinco, L. (2007). Select photograph of Witch Fire. Retrieved December 9, 2007 from,0,977460.photogallery?coll=la-home-center&index=41