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Geographic Documentation of the Cottonville Fire - Adams County, Wisconsin - May 5, 2005


Project Abstract

On May 5, 2005, a man clearing his land near the unincorporated community of Cottonville, Wisconsin in Adams County ignited what has come to be known as the Cottonville Fire. The fire burned 3,410 acres through the communities of Big Flats, Preston and Culburn and destroyed 30 homes and dozens of other structures. Ironically, the landowner used fire to clear his land to make it less susceptible to wildfire.
The Cottonville Fire is one of the most thoroughly documented major fires in Wisconsin history. Technology has afforded the means to quickly collect and present documentation of the fire with maps, photographs, damage assessments, after action reviews, and other records.  Initial documentation was centralized by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) using Esri's ArcView 3.X software – GIS software popular in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Project files and data were shared with the UWSP GIS Center for publishing and serving data on the internet for public consumption and education. The resulting web-maps provide a geographically-enabled means to warehouse information, communicate a complex spatial narrative and promote better understanding about wildfire.

Principal Investigators 

John Hintz: WDNR Forestry Staff Specialist. Project advisor.

Douglas Miskowiak: UWSP GIS Education Specialist. Project advisor.

Al Bond:  UWSP Senior Technical Support Specialist.  Technical advisor.

Student Investigators

Ben Overholt:  GIS Database Management and Cartography.
Stephen Kochaver:  GIS Server Administration and Java Script Programming.

Interactive Web Mapping

Click on one of the headings below to open a web browser and interactive map using Esri's Flex Viewer Application. These maps share a comprehensive set of spatial information compiled about the Cottonville Fire.

Fire Timeline and Emergency Response

Pre/Post Fire Imagery and Land Cover Changes

Documentation of Fire-in-Progress, Fire Effects and Management Plans​​

Data D​escriptions

Click here​ to learn more about the various data layers compiled for the Cottonville Fire.  Learn which layers have additional interactive functions that link to photographs and other content.   

After Action Review 

Click here​​ ​to review the final report and after action review of the Cottonville Fire written by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.​




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