United States: Technology changing how wildfires are fought

Source(s): San Diego Union-Tribune

By J. Harry Jones

Computer technology is changing the way wildfires are being fought — and will soon allow firefighters in San Diego County to track on their smart phones what a blaze is doing and how it will evolve.

That groundwork was highlighted Friday during a seminar on wildfire preparedness seminar that drew more than 100 leaders of local fire agencies. The event was hosted by San Diego Gas & Electric Co in conjunction with the San Diego Fire Foundation.

Across the region, 170 steel electrical poles are equipped with small weather stations that constantly record wind speed and humidity levels.

Vegetation maps — updated regularly — show what kind of brush is growing and where, and how dry it has become. Historical data helps firefighters know when an area last burned, and how thick the fuel is — which gives them an idea of how fierce and hot a wildfire there might burn.

All these tools are being put together into one master predictive tool — a smart phone app — that makes millions of calculations every day.


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