Fighting wildland fires is hard work in an ever-changing landscape that seems to have a will of its own. Finding information on the Internet - including dramatic video - is not as dangerous, but some sites with great video overloaded with traffic, in some cases to re-emerge on another server (and the Webcam atop Mt. Wilson, with excellent footage of fires approaching broadcast towers, stopped recording Sept. 1, possibly due to the effects of a backfire. Update: It's working again.)
InciWeb, an inter-agency Web and information effort, is cutting through some of the smoke with an attack of data, maps, news and photographs, updated often, which is all-important in this emergency.
Users are just a few click away from maps and info about a large number of fires in the West, as well as links to numerous local agencies' sites.
Pages include inviting interactive maps that users can navigate on, with fire boundaries in bright red and information easily available. Liek most well-planned sites these days, it provides a front-page link to its Twitter feed.
The site isn't excessive with the video, and some links widely boot users onto YouTube, which is probably keeping the site breathing instead of suffocating under the traffic of the curious. (Here's the YouTube page for the Station fire, for example.)
So, for this particular effort to help saves lives, property and peace of mind in California, InciWeb (www.inciweb.org) is the Government Video Website of the Week.
The site involves the collaboration of the wide range of agencies associated with firefighting: the U.S. Forest Service, NOAA, the National Park Servcie, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Interior Department's National Business Center Aviation Management Directorate, the National Association of State Foresters and the U.S. Fire Administration.
And check out last week’s Website of the Week, Defense.gov, where the Pentagon is all it can virtually be.
Does your agency go above and beyond on the Web to serve the public? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.