California's next governor hopes to get the jump on fires by expanding the state's high-tech early warning camera system
By Jeff Daniels
California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom's high-tech plan to fight wildfires, which he outlined during the campaign, is now getting renewed attention, with the state facing longer and more devastating fire seasons.
Some experts have called the project — a camera network that gives an early warning of wildfires in forests and other high-fire areas — a "game-changer."
The early warning fire camera network exists today, but with fewer than 80 of the infrared cameras statewide. They have already proven their worth by allowing fire managers and others to spot blazes early to keep them from spreading. The number of cameras on the network is expected to grow more than sixfold over the next four years and cover thousands of square miles of fire-prone areas, including forests and rangelands.
PG&E spokeswoman Mayra Tostado tells CNBC the utility has a goal of having 600 cameras by 2022, covering roughly 90 percent of its service territory. The San Francisco-based utility already has funded some of the camera technology in the North Bay region.
[Neal Driscoll, professor of geoscience and geophysics at Scripps Oceanography,] said the ultimate goal is to have hundreds of the early warning cameras around the state. He said the technology also can be useful to look at the impacts of fires on landscapes and to spot areas that can be subject to erosion, mudslides and other risks after blazes.