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Just a fun thing for the GIS types: Wildfires

I was thinking about a utility where you could select the date you wanted to check out the fires, then the utility would use gdal_rasterize on the appropriate .shp (or .kml) perimeters to generate blend masks. There could also be a supplied .tif and .inf for each fire so the utility could then call resample to compile all the burn perimeters on that particular date and move the .bgls to an active scenery area.

I guess I assumed everyone had OSGeo or FWTools installed, lol. Duh. That was dumb and of course won't work! :)

Better approach would probably be pre-compiled perimeters in folders by date and a utility that copies the appropriate photo.bgl to the scenery folder according to a selected date (or scenario if we did the missions). That would be much faster from the user's perspective anyway. I think I'll try a small sample with some imagery off the map server so it can be distributed, maybe 3-4 significant dates in the Kettle Complex fire as a test since it's relatively small. I'll try to post up a working sample tomorrow or the next day.

So I got (I'm told) an inch of rain yesterday! A cute little gopher :mad: just dug a hole in my yard though and the gopher mound is dry as a bone. It's very wet on top still, I even had puddles yesterday for a few minutes and I haven't seen that in 6 months. No fire worries today and there's supposed to be more rain on the way. I'm lighting the BBQ! :D

Oh, and the .kmls work fine with gdal_rasterize. Thanks for the info Orion and also thanks Lane and Paul for the input on "losing weight".

I think this should be Gary's new avatar, lol: :stirthepo
I think this should be Gary's new avatar, lol: :stirthepo

Hi Jim:

That avatar suggestion is probably rather well-deserved, considering that, when I'm not striving for an eventual award as "Duke of URL", I'm advocating a friendly "can you top this" sentiment among 'active forum posters' in the FS Development community !:rotfl:


BTW: I hear them thar' gophers makes for good eatin', especially when grilled over charcoal (...rather than by brush fires) ! :D



Resource contributor
I was wondering if Active Fires discards points below a certain confidence level, and if so where did you draw the line? I tried everything 80 and above and my frames were in the toilet. I tried again at 90 or above and it was better but still like 17-18 FPS looking at the fires. Man I've never seen anything whack the frames like these fire effects but it seems if you strip everything below even 80 a lot of the key hotspots don't show up. Maybe this is a DX10 thing, do they kill your frames too?

FS Active Fires will only place fires in the simulator if the detection confidence of the fire is greater than or equal to the value selected using the minimum confidence slider. The default value of the minimum confidence slider is 0, so by default it uses all fires, but that can be adjusted by the user. The slider values are unlabeled, so in case it needs clarification, it's 0 to 100 incrementing (in units of 5) to the right. The fires really drop the frame rate here as well; I think I've tried in both DX9 and DX10 without much difference.

I guess I assumed everyone had OSGeo or FWTools installed, lol. Duh. That was dumb and of course won't work! :)

Better approach would probably be pre-compiled perimeters in folders by date and a utility that copies the appropriate photo.bgl to the scenery folder according to a selected date (or scenario if we did the missions). That would be much faster from the user's perspective anyway. I think I'll try a small sample with some imagery off the map server so it can be distributed, maybe 3-4 significant dates in the Kettle Complex fire as a test since it's relatively small. I'll try to post up a working sample tomorrow or the next day.

I actually think such a utility could be possible; GDAL does have a C# API (what Arno uses in scenProc), but it seems fairly complex and would still require users to find their own imagery. What you said about having premade BGL files is a lot simpler, and can actually already be switched with a piece of software I've already made, Scenery Manager (http://www.fsdeveloper.com/forum/threads/scenery-manager.431717/). :p

And yeah, what Paul said about the mission system or SimConnect is the best way to adjust payloads dynamically. The technical aspects of changing payload and adding/removing SimObjects (for the attached effects) is actually pretty trivial; the hard part is making it realistic and telling a good story. It would be pretty interesting to come up with such an addon, though...
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Hi Jim:

I've been enjoying the frequent updates of ideas and innovations in this thread, and I hope my irreverent attempt at humor above didn't disrupt your ongoing concentration on this project. :oops:

After striving to implement some new ideas in one of my own projects for an extended duration of time and seeing an opportunity for a bit of comedy relief, I thought you might also appreciate my frivolous reference to the "Gopher" ending up on the BBQ grill. ;)

< GaryGB goes back to sorting out a GIS transformation involving polynomial re-rectification of an elevation data set with gradient slope distribution to implement the GIS equivalent of 3D lofting without deriving "flat terrain surfaces"; while grappling with his task, he keeps hearing lyrics to the song by Hall and Oates: "I can't gopher that". > :laughing:

BTW: I'm still excited to see how the "wildfires" technology evolves for FSX and P3D ! :)

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No worries Gary and I LMAO at "Duke of URL" BTW :)

Well - I was daydreaming about something like this - but I always get carried away and I can tell right now just putting the facts together for even one of these fires is way more trouble than I wanna mess with. I've put 4 fires in the interface. That leaves about 36 fires out, lol. The "missions" I came up with for the interface are complete BS, I happen to know some people that were evacuated near Matsen Creek and I know they did tanker drops to save houses but everything else is made up. Also I have no idea how to make a mission and little desire to learn but I guess saved flights in default aircraft could work well enough to put the user into the scenario at the correct date/time.

Might be best to just pick a day when the fires were small and do all the perimeters for that day. Supply a saved flyover type flight in the default Baron where you leave from Chelan Muni and end up in Spokane taking in all the fires along the way by following a supplied flight plan. Then pick another day after the fires got huge, swap the perimeters with SceneryManager and fly the return trip or something to see the difference.

The SceneryManager is brilliant BTW Orion, the flexibility is amazing, very nice and a lot of fun too!



Resource contributor
Shower-thought brainstorming for aerial firefighting in FSX:

- Make a target with an attached wildfire effect
- Make a "fire retardant" payload model
- Hide said payload model in aircraft fuselage
- Create a mission with targets
- Successful hit on target with retardant => fire model disappears, smoke column appears

This depends on whether it's possible to "rearm" during missions, and whether target models can be replaced within the FSX mission framework or not.
I'm too unmotivated to dig into the mission creation stuff though.

Easier, more flexible solution:
- Retardant effect file defined as aircraft light (as has been done before)
- Firefighting gauge
- Use XMLTools to add retardant as payload weight (will also enable refuelling on lakes)
- Gauge has an "arming" switch. If armed -> drop retardant with the joystick trigger and deduct the payload weight via XMLTools.

No visible effect on the ground, but no requirements for a mission either.


Resource contributor
Thanks Jim! What you did looks nice. :)

If we were to make such an addon, I think the way to go would be with the mission system to provide POIs, triggers, and dialogue, and SimConnect to manage the actual fire effects, payload weight, and water/retardant drops. There would probably be a program similar to Scenery Manager or TakeFlight Interactive's Air Alaska launcher in that it would be there to swap the BGL for the burned area photoscenery, launch the mission, and run the aforementioned SimConnect client to manage the fires.
Finding/downloading imagery is the hold up. I guess I assumed each fire would be about like downloading an airport background but guess how many 1:10 NAIP tiles are in a 180,000 acre fire? 56 :)

Don't worry, this isn't going to be some 12 gig addon, I'm scaling the pixel dimensions so I'm getting LOD13 out of resample and using CompressionQuality 88. A .bgl for a 12,500 acre fire comes out to about ~2.5 Mb. Probably wont win any scenery design awards but they show the perimeter in the sim pretty well and that's the point.

I have a set of compiled perimeters for the Kettle Complex fires ready to go with a few assorted dates. It all started with the Stickpin fire on the 12th and I have a perimeter where it was only 15 acres at that point so I was thinking I'd include a saved flight in the default Cessna Caravan where you leave R49 Republic, WA and go look for the fire, then maybe land at 63S Colville, WA after flying over the pre-fire Renner Lake area enroute.

Then in the SceneryManager you can read a little about the fires and select a date (I'm thinking after Stickpin went crazy and Renner Lake had just started, so probably the 19th or 20th) for another saved flight, probably saved in flight on autopilot and with a flight plan loaded that would fly you around for half an hour or so above the fires with an optional landing at Grand Forks, BC or similar.

I've got a total of 5 perimeters for Renner Lake and I'll make date options in the manager for all of them but I'll only use 3 of them for scenarios. I'd probably come up with one more scenario on the day they went Stage III and maybe save a flight in the default 737 or something where you can at least line up and buzz the river in the general direction they made the drops, lol. For now anyway?

Lastly I'd like to choose one date in August when the fires were most active and do perimeters for Chelan, Okanogan, Wolverine, North Star, Carpenter Road, and Kaniksu all on that date along with one more scenario that takes you high and fast in the King Air or something on a circuit around them all.

The to do list:
a lot of downloading for the fires in the paragraph above
revamp the control panel
save some flights
turn them into missions?
finish adding the rest of August to the fire effects placement
bundle it up somehow
10 things I haven't realized I need to do yet

I'm thinking there are way too many possible scenarios a person could play out over the month of August, the average end user would probably burn out on it after 3 or 4 and then all the trouble of researching what took place on each fire and saving flights, etc. goes to waste. My plan is to limit the "story" part of it to the Kettle Complex with just 3 or 4 scenarios.

At that point anything and everything could be built upon and you guys can at least check it out in the sim. It'd be awesome if we could turn my 737 mission into something better with real working retardant drops and maybe even a freeware DC10 or Avro/Bae146 rigged up to drop retardant. I have no idea if such a thing exists. I don't even know which direction they lined up from to do the drops but there's never been anything wrong with a little "artistic license" if we couldn't come up with any real world facts.

BTW here's an active thread about fires at flightsim.com if you haven't seen it:


...and in that thread is a link to a mission I'm getting ready to check out now, currently the 5th one down the page, "Aerial Firefighter Training Mission". The readme in the download instructs you to download an Air Tractor and a patch for it, the aircraft is 110 Mb and they throttle tightwads like me to 50 Kb/sec so it takes a while :)


direct link to file:

the Air Tractor:

the patch for the Air Tractor:


Resource contributor
The Mission Creation section of the SDK (https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc526963.aspx) has a complete step by step tutorial on creating a simple mission using the Object Placement Tool. Alternatively, if you don't want to use the Object Placement Tool in the SDK, there's Jim Keir's FSX Mission Editor (http://www.fsmissioneditor.com/FSX/index.php & https://secure.simmarket.com/fsaddon-fsx-mission-editor.phtml).

Also, I found a freeware DC-10: http://library.avsim.net/esearch.php?DLID=167876 / http://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/fslib.php?do=search&fname=tomdc10.zip
I worked on the burn scars to try and make them look more like burned timber. They aren't as distinctive as they were but I think they look better.

Here's the Wolverine fire located along the south shore of Lake Chelan. This fire started on June 29th so it's been burning a while. Note the steep terrain, a firefighter's nightmare I'm guessing. Wolverine started a run to the south around the 20th of August into the Entiat river canyon, the perimeter was actually from the 19th but they can't update the primeters when they're growing so fast so there's a lapse between the 19th and the 21st. That's a problem of course when you're trying to compile all the perimeters on a given day so in this case I fudged the 19th into the 8/20 group which is about the best I can do. As of 9/5 the fire is at 65,361 acres, it hasn't grown significantly since the 27th.

Here's what it looked like on August 19th:


There were so many MODIS/FIRMS hot spots on 8/20 I had to literally throw out 80% of the detections to get even 10 FPS flying over the fires!


Here's the difference in the perimeter between 8/19 and 9/4 in TMFViewer:


Here's the Chelan Complex, that's S10 Chelan Muni down there in the burn area. This specific fire is called "Reach" but there's another one in the complex called First Creek which you can see along the opposite shore of Lake Chelan in the background:


I still don't know exactly what I'm trying to do here, lol. I guess the biggest problem is trying to get a timeline on these fires in my own mind and figure out what I want to show in the form of saved flights/missions or whatever. I've got the imagery and the .infs set up for most fires now so I can make a blend mask for any date available as a .shp and compile a .bgl in 5 minutes. What exactly to do with that, I'm still not sure :) .
It won't look as good as real terrain, but if you make a sample area could you lay down a polygon terrain (landclass) to get the burnt ground look?
That'll mean you don't have to download large areas of imagery and resample it - you'll be closer to having a tool to download and quickly process and inject the burnt areas/
The other thing you can do is create a simple black raster area from a black polygon and set it to be partially transparent, that would then work over both tiled imagery and photoscenery ;)