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Fire detection cameras installed throughout Humboldt County

FORTUNA- CalFire is getting a head start on preparing for next year’s wildfire season with the help of PG&E. Next fire season, CalFire will have a new weapon in combating wildfires.

“The system is an automated fire detection system so it will sit on four separate mountaintops,” said CalFire Emergency Command Center Batallion Chief Paul Duncan. “We’re going to be able to see and detect wild land fires while they're small.”

As part of the new system, five cameras are stationed at Pratt, Grasshopper, Pierce and Horse fire lookout towers in Humboldt County. The cameras use geo-referencing to pinpoint fire start locations and notify command center operators if smoke or fire is detected.

“The system is run autonomously and about every four minutes the cameras will make a full 360 degree rotation, they take photos at 45 degree angles, they take four different photos and they compare those for motion,” Duncan said.

The $270,000 system comes free with a grant from PG&E. The utility company is giving out $2 million for 28 similar cameras throughout Northern and Central California. The cameras were installed on October 27 and are already operable.

“Fire season is a busy time for PG&E as well, because we want to protect our electric lines so that our customers don't lose power during a major fire,” said Brittany McKannay with the

Pacific Gas and Electric Company. “What we're hoping is that with the drought season that we're facing, we can be good partners in the community by helping ensure that the fire departments can detect fires early on.”

And with the help of these cameras, CalFire says they will be ahead of the game for next fire season.

“Some of our fires go 30-45 minutes without being detected and all that time is time that that fire is getting bigger,” Duncan said. “So the faster we can get resources on the fire, the smaller we can keep them and that protects homes, lives, property.”