Cameras Help ODF Keep Watch on Wildfires

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — As the latest round of storms moved through Thursday night into Friday, the Oregon Department of Forestry has dozens of digital eyes closely watching for wildfires.

The ODF has about three dozen cameras covering forest lands throughout the state.

Each camera is on a tower and snaps pictures. The images eventually provide a 360-degree view of the landscape. A computer program then analyzes all of the pictures.

If there’s a major difference between two images, such as smoke, the program then alerts someone at ODF. They can then compare the pictures and decide if they want to send out crews.

“We can step up the dispatch level to be able to get the resources and get more ordered up and covered sooner” said Greg Wagenblast, ODF Unit Forester. “Having to wait until someone gets on scene and get an initial size up on the fire.”

Unit foresters say the cameras are also useful in search and rescue missions. Deputies can direct people to the towers with the cameras on them, then use the cameras to verify the missing person’s location.

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