Earthquake Monitors Will Help Keep An Eye On Wildfires As Well

By  | 

You've seen a lot of different ways to view the Bison Fire in the past five days, on the ground close up and wide.

You've never seen it like this:

It's a time lapse view of the fire this past weekend, shot from a camera posted on a mountain top on the Carson Range, looking east to the fire and posted on YouTube.

What's intriguing is how this video was recorded and where it was compiled.

It comes from the Seismology Lab at UNR.

As everyone should know this is earthquake country and this lab monitors the ground beneath our feet 24/7. They do that through a network of monitoring stations on mountain tops. That network only works through an internet based communications and data gathering system.

"There's no reason why other sensor system can't be integrated into this as well," says the system's manager Ken Smith. "I mean people have sensors, but the communication part of it is the tricky part and its often the forgotten part."

The seismology lab has put a lot of effort into setting it up and now they've found a new use for it.

The camera that took this video is the first HD camera in a system which will encircle the Tahoe basin. When the Bison Fire broke out they simply turned the camera around and focused on the fire.

It is an interesting use for an existing communications system, but one which may have an immediate practical value.

Smith says as these images go online, firefighters will be able to watch in real time, even control the cameras. Even view it at night in infrared, watching the fire through darkness and smoke.

"They can track the speed and progression of the fire quickly with the changes in the wind speed and other issues as well. Hopefully, they will see a research application for this to better fight fires.

In wildfires as in war, the fight is eventually won on the ground with support from the air, but also as in war, there's no substitute for up-to-date information. This new tool may soon be helping incident commanders make the decisions that help keep fire crews and the public safer.

Here's two more time lapse views of the Bison Fire: