Cameras show Caldor Fire spotting into Tahoe Basin

University of Nevada, Reno and DigitalPath technicians deploy latest technology onto mountaintop camera platform


One of the two thermal cameras in place for the Caldor Fire shows active flames heading into the Lake Tahoe Basin with a dozen or more spot fires already established.

“The FLIR (forward-looking infrared) camera located on the tower on the top of Heavenly Ski Resort allows the fire to be monitored through the heavy smoke and provides early identification of spot fires, helping firefighters to respond appropriately,” Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab and University of Nevada, Reno lead of the ALERTWildfire program said.

Live YouTube at WeatherNode shows the view of the fire from the thermal camera.

Evacuations are now underway in parts of the South Lake Tahoe area.

“With only zero to quarter-mile visibility from the thick smoke, firefighters can’t get close to the fire with aircraft and can’t follow the progress of the fire to mount an attack,” Kent, said. “These two cameras should give a good view through the smoke for fire managers. It’s important to identify early any spot fires that jump ahead of the main fire or the fire front as it changes direction.”

ALERTWildfire crews from the Nevada Seismological Laboratory and DigitalPath, a wireless Internet service provider based in Chico, California, installed the second camera Friday, Aug. 27, at Angel’s Roost at the top of the Heavenly Mountain Resort overlooking the Lake Tahoe Basin and the Sierra Nevada to the west.

The technicians installed the forward-looking infrared Teledyne camera at Angel’s Roost Friday with the immediate goal of providing high resolution imagery of active flames and spotting through thick smoke as the Caldor Fire spills into Lake Tahoe Basin.

The thermal camera data are on the ALERTWildfire camera page and are available to firefighters and the public to observe fire behavior. Nevada Seismo Lab technical staff integrated the Teledyne camera data into the ALERTWildfire real-time website and streaming at DigitalPath’s site. The other thermal camera in place for the Caldor Fire is located on the Mt. Danaher ALERTWildfire site between Placerville, California and Pollock Pines, California near Highway 50. Both cameras are on loan from Teledyne for wildfire response.

The thermal cameras augment the dozens of ALERTWildfire cameras that view the Tahoe area and the western slope of the Sierra foothills that U.S. Forest Service, CalFire, PG&E and other agencies are using during the Caldor Fire. They operate 24/7 with near infrared capabilities at night.

Source: University of Nevada, Reno

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