The California King Fire through Social Media

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Kayla R. Novak, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA; and B. A. Davis

The King Fire began September 13, 2014, in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Pollock Pines, California. It quickly intensified into a nearly 100,000 acre fire, destroying 12 residences and threatening nearly 300 structures, making it the second largest wildfire in California's busy 2014 fire season. Over 7,000 firefighters fought the blaze as weather conditions drove it into the El Dorado National Forest at an explosive rate of spread--at one point, burning 30,000 acres in less than 24 hours. The Fire Weather Research Laboratory at San Josť State University spent three days at the fire, collecting smoke plume data and boundary layer profiles, in conjunction with the incident meteorologist from the National Weather Service office in Sacramento, California.

The fire's size, as well as its proximity to urban centers like Sacramento and its threatening growth toward Lake Tahoe, made the King Fire a well documented and discussed event on social media. Using the website topsy.com, influencers of the King Fire social communication were identified. Influencers included management (CalFire, National Weather Service, and American Red Cross) and media (local television and radio affiliates). Analysis of these influencers' tweets was done to see which organizations created the most social media engagement among the community.