High-def fire lookouts coming to Sonoma County

Posted on August 8, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun
A fire camera, linked to a microwave tower for real-time observation, deployed in San Diego.
A fire camera, linked to a microwave tower for real-time observation, deployed in San Diego.


The county will install a network of fire cameras to keep a close eye on the drinking water supply for more than 600,000 residents in Sonoma and Marin counties.

The hi-def system allows for early detection of wildfires in the Lake Sonoma Watershed, and to providefirefighters real-time information on a fire’s severity, where it is spreading and how quickly it is growing.

A likely spot for one the remote-control camera is on top of Sonoma Mountain.

The Lake Sonoma Fire Camera Project was approved today by the Board of Supervisors. Officials hope to expand the system to include a five-county regional network of  Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino counties.

“These cameras will provide us with early fire detection and a level of situational awareness that is critical as we adapt to new wildfire behavior,” said Sonoma Water Director and Board of Supervisors Chair James Gore.

The state-of-the-art system uses near-infrared technology for night vision, and allows fire officials to take control of the fire cameras during wildfire emergencies to monitor fire and weather activity. Cameras will be located on mountain tops and high-visibility locations that allow the cameras to locate fire ignition spots.

“We learned a painful lesson last October about what these extreme weather events can produce in terms of wildfires and we’re seeing already this year that it is the new normal,” Gore said.

Initially there will be eight high-definition web cameras placed at key locations in the region. Most of the sites will take advantage of existing communications towers or infrastructure. Installation should be complete by the end of September.

Primary funding for the Lake Sonoma Watershed Fire Camera Pilot Project will come from the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water), which will contribute $477,037 to have the system of cameras installed, maintained and operated for the first year.

The project is a collaboration among numerous agencies, including Sonoma Water, Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services, Sheriff’s Office, County Information Services Department, County General Services Department, Pepperwood Preserve, Fairfield Osborn Preserve, Sonoma State University, The Regents of the University of California, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (U.C. San Diego), and the AlertWildfire consortium of universities.



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