The Wildfire Alert Blog
Hello! My name is Dennis Stephens and I live in the mountains just west of Denver Colorado. This is an area of highest risk to wildfires in the entire country, and the number one area of risk, in the state of Colorado. So I am concerned about wildfires. Even though my home was in the mountains, my wife and I worked both worked in Denver. Our children were grown, so only our two dogs were at home during the day, and they did not know how to use a phone. The point is, we were concerned about wildfires and how much notification we would have if one occurred near our home.
You see a friend of mine who lived in an area about 40 miles from our home lost his house to wildfire. He received a call at work from a neighbor telling him that a wildfire was approaching his home and he needed to get there as soon as possible. So he jumped in his truck and drove, as fast as he could. It took him just over thirty minutes to get home, but by the time he arrived his home was engulfed in flames. He lost everything. He even lost his horses that were in his barn.
Well since then I had always been trying to find ways for us to get notified of wildfires. I looked at the ‘reverse 911’ system and the ‘Code Red’ system which are supposed to let you know when something could be endangering you or your family. However, the more I dug into these systems, the more problems I found. You may not believe it, but there is politics involved with the operation of these warning systems and when and whether or not a fire gets reported on these systems is an involved process. The bottom line, is that often the people who need to know about these threats are not notified until evacuation or pre-evacuation is determined.
Personally, I wanted to know about wildfires that could threaten my home as soon as they were detected. So I started looking around for other services. I found websites that showed the locations of wildfires. And the USGS forest service has a national database of wildfires that many website use to populate maps showing the location of wildfires. And then there are other service like IncWeb a national wildfire posting site, as well as other state operated sites like CalFire in California. But one thing I found with each of these sites was that they were slow. The first thing fire fighters do when they find out about a fire is go fight the fire. Go figure. They don’t update these websites or databases as a first step, and often these databases don’t get notified or updated for hours and in some cases even days.
I thought it would be great if there was a process where local citizens could immediately notify there neighbors of the location of a new wildfire as soon as it was spotted. And that’s when I developed the Wildfire Alert Service. It is a community approach to wildfire location notification. I am not going to get into detail on how the website and its mobile apps work, that can all be seen on the website itself.
However, I in my continued research of information on wildfires I do find some interesting things. And it is my intent to show you some of those things with these blogs.
Today I have included links to two sites that I think have very visually interesting wildfire topics. One shows images of wildfire tornadoes in the UK and the other shows some dramatic pictures from wildfires in California.