Jackson County, Oregon, USA

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October 04, 2023
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SB 762 investments help prevent large wildfires (Photo)
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SB 762 investments help prevent large wildfires (Photo)

Eugene, Ore.—After several lightning strikes last night, the Oregon Department of Forestry succeeded in stopping progression on a fire between Sharps Creek and Mosby due to a detection camera installed last fall. The camera was purchased through SB 762 funding. The early detection and fast response to this fire would not have been possible prior to SB 762’s investment in the Oregon Department of Forestry’s camera detection system. 

The fire was detected via the camera around 5:30 p.m. Monday evening, after staff from the property left, at which point two engines responded alongside landowner resources. Firefighters had the fire under control by 8 p.m. The fire ended up being a half-acre in size, but if left undetected it could have been a much larger, more damaging, and expensive fire by morning. 

“This fire was right on the edge of a unit and could have been significantly bigger had it not been detected until today.” Chris Cline, South Cascade District Forester, said. “I’m super happy for the quick and effective result and look forward to getting additional cameras on-line as soon as possible.” 

Early detection investments through SB 762 included the expansion of ODF’s detection camera system. Over the last two years, the department has been strategically adding new cameras throughout the state to cover the most area per camera. Currently, ODF has 93 cameras at 68 sites across Oregon. Through SB 762’s expansion of early detection resources, the department can reduce resource loss and the overall cost of a fire. 

These cameras can monitor hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of land. The software is designed to notify the operator when smoke is on the landscape, however, the operator can also spot the smoke before the system notifies them. Using an augmented mapping system, the approximate location of the potential fire is sent to dispatchers, who then relay the information in real-time to the resources that are responding. This system allows for early detection and fast response to a fire and sets the department up for success in keeping wildfires under 10 acres. Suppressing wildfires at 10 acres or less dramatically reduces the cost and minimizes property loss.

With the continued high temperatures and dry conditions this week, ODF remains ready to respond to wildfires and wildfire prevention is key. Now is the time for Oregonians to actively practice wildfire prevention. This includes waiting to burn debris, recreating responsibly, and not parking over dried grass. For more information on wildfire prevention, visit keeporegongreen.org. 

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