For the first time, cameras will help fire managers locate wildfires and smoke columns in the state of Utah.
“Especially in areas that are a little more remote, we can see wildfires before crews get there,” said Jason Curry, a spokesperson for Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “We can zoom these very powerful cameras in on an area where there’s an emerging event.”
Rocky Mountain Power funded the cameras and installed them in areas where infrastructure allowed. Utah FFSL, along with select fire and emergency organizations, will have access to the cameras.
“We want to be able to see areas that are more remote. Most of the fires that happen on the Wasatch Front are reported within a minute,” said Curry.
As of March 14, six cameras are active and live. Another eight cameras are expected to be installed and up and running by the end of the spring.
“One of the hardest parts about dispatching and sending resources to a wildfire is often times you’ve just got someone who’s seeing some smoke from the freeway or a highway and really not seeing the real picture," Curry said.
During a demonstration with FOX 13, cameras were rotated and zoomed in to specific locations that can show fire managers access points for firefighters and structures nearby. Rocky Mountain Power installed the cameras as part of their wildfire mitigation efforts and chose areas that they call "fire high consequence areas."
“With these cameras, they really help our situation awareness on the ground,” said Tiffany Erickson, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power. Erickson also noted that these cameras help look at weather conditions and can even help determine if it’s needed to de-energize power lines.
Utah joins surrounding states that have operational cameras through the website portal "Alert Wildfire."
The cameras are available for viewing by the public. There’s also a "report" button on the webpage that allows members of the public to share the image via social media with hashtags that would alert fire managers and dispatchers, thus allowing them to check the camera to verify.
The six cameras that are currently live include:
- Central (Southern Utah)
- Enoch West (Southern Utah)
- Farnsworth (Northern Utah)
- Quarry Mtn. (Northern Utah)
- Wallsburg (Northern Utah)
- West Mountain (Northern Utah)
While the locations for the next round of the cameras have not been made public, it’s believed that there will be detection cameras installed in the Uintah Basin, Carbon County, Box Elder County and Ogden Valley, with additional cameras in Southern Utah and along the Wasatch Back.