Forest Fires

BC, Australia, California, Alberta, Saskatchewan, ALL Fight Fires Blind
Fire Command Should Have Unobstructed Sight Through Smoke 
Direction of Fires Can be Tracked Through Smoke Giving Lead Time
The infrared industry has not kept up with imaging application advances of their own technologies. That limits the important use of non invasive radiology that allows sight of temperature beyond our visible spectrum.

It takes more than buying equipment for imaging success; it requires a specific imaging application, proper equipment, technical support and interpretation by applicable professionals. Every imaging application has different considerations.

Our team substantiated first, then implemented IR into fire departments as early as 1990/91. Providing sight through smoke, ability to source fire, people, pets, fire investigation, avoid rekindles, save resources and environmental damage.

August 21, 2003 the fire interfaced with the city and they didn’t see it coming. Here is an example of what was coming towards Kelowna and people were on the streets staring into the smoke waiting for evacuation orders.
Forest Fire Interfacing with Kelowna, BC
Citizens on patrol were blind, waiting for evacuation orders and couldn’t see the fire  heading to their community at 350 ft per minute.

Patrolling RCMP were stopped and shown the fire through the smoke. He was on the radio and 15,000 were evacuated 2 hours later. The officer asked if we would volunteer and directed us to the Kelowna Fire Hall. Jurisdiction conflicts and turns aside at the fire hall. l where forestry had taken over jurisdiction. We were turned away without them seeing an image.

Here are basic images taken in Kettle Valley August 21, 2003 on the way to the fire hall.
August 22, 2003 the fire was imaged through the smoke from Gyro Beach and the fire grew burning 100s of buildings. 1000s more evacuated. Premier Gordon Campbell and entourage saw the imaging of the fire through the smoke when forestry was blind.

Marshall Jones of the Kelowna Capital News asked to used the time stamped images from August 22, 2003 with radio dispatches between forestry and KFD confirming they were blind.

There was a public inquiry regarding the government handling of the fire season. Premier Gordon Campbell’s office specifically edited the information you see here out of the inquiry.

The images you see here were presented at the Filmon Inquiry.

In 2009, another forest fire happened in West Kelowna. Premier Campbell was still in office and all attempts to help were ignored. The day the fire started media was reporting concerns if the fire crosses hwy 97. This very basic video shows the fire building towards the highway while they attacked to other side of the fire.

This infrared video of the fire building through the smoke is alarming. You can see embers flying through the air and starting back fires that could easily trap people. When police want you  to evacuate, do it for your life.

2 thoughts on “Forest Fires”

Robert Norman
September 22, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Hi there,

I have only just come across your website and this post, so am unsure of it’s date of publication.

I’ve personally been involved with airborne infrared mapping of bushfires in Australia for just on 30 years. We have evolved with technology, but more importantly the techniques utilsed to gather and process the IR image data. We operate at higher altitudes (normally 20-35,000ft) for a number of reasons. At these heights, we gather good resolution image data, but also maximise area coverage in a given flight hour and ensure crew safety in extreme fire cases. The USA having trialed the ‘Ikhana’ drone (Predator) with a multispectral scanner for wildfire mapping, proved that UAV’s are still a long way off being used operationally. Also, at the current time, achieve nothing in the way of cost benefit. The USA I feel still are today limited in the type of fire imagery they produce, so the overall utilisation of the imagery is equally limited.

The fire authorities still limit the usage of the imagery to internal use, whilst normally providing extracted maps to the public. What I would like to see one day, is the direct feed of usable imagery to the public (and media in certain cases), so all information gathered is available to them. Not just a limited content via the authorities. The key to this however, is imagery that makes common sense to everyone, without the need for specialist interpretation and viewing software.

In Australia, we can provide this, in a near real-time fashion. An example of this is at

September 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Hello Robert,

Thanks for this and thanks for your service, it gives us a better idea on how best to assist you. It would actually be pretty straight forward to provide this live for fire command as well as the public. We just did the same thing for medicine here when they asked about seeing Ebola in quarantine.

My background in infrared started in 1979 and we ended up developing imaging applications for a multitude of industries. I managed an IR company and we trained our first fire department 25 years ago giving unobstructed sight through the smoke plus much more. When it came to forest fires or wild fires they could track the direction of the fire through the smoke giving lead time to fire fighters.

Last year I got a call on the 19 fire fighters they lost in Arizona when they were overrun by the fire and sadly we sad we could have helped give them sight. In my area we had an interface fire and fire departments and forestry were reporting smoke inhibiting sight or fighting the fire. I was training in the area and literally jumped in front of a police car to initiate one of Canada’s biggest evacuations. Here are still images of that day and unfortunately our Premier edited the images out of a public fire inquiry because it embarrassed the political party.

When you refer to live imaging, here is one we did for media and it shocked me to see how far embers were flying in front of the fire.

Here is the domino effect of the edited fire inquiry when another forest fire interfaced across the lake. They wouldn’t let us help and media was already reporting they were worried about the fire jumping the highway. As we watched with students, you could see them water bombing one side of the fire while the fire built on the other side and jumped the highway. Again keep in mind this is a simple example, there is much more that could have been done.

There are multiple ways you could give sight from the air and ground. Our job and applications were specifically to provide sight to fire command so they can do their jobs. We did some amazing live IR showing water bombers working a fire. You could see the cooler water and fire retardent as it hit the ground from miles away.

Work safe and let us know if we can advance those programs with you.
”Bringing the Invisible to Light Since 1979”

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