Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: EDWIN Project Beta-Testing New Wildfire Detection Cameras
EDM Friday Briefing: EDWIN Project Beta-Testing New Wildfire Detection Cameras

EDM Friday Briefing: EDWIN Project Beta-Testing New Wildfire Detection Cameras


Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 17, 2020: Interstate 70 was shut down west of Glenwood Springs after multiple wildfires erupted; one critical Bay Area public transport system, Caltrain, is facing a temporary closure at minimum as a California shutdown is ordered for a second time since spring; a new wildfire in California destroys buildings and forces evacuations in San Benito County; a CalFire investigation concludes that transmission lines owned by PG&E ignited the Kincade Fire in 2019; the Chattanooga Fire Department helped rescue residents and their pets after a major fire erupted in an apartment complex just outside the city; Project Breathe has donated 14 pet oxygen mask kits to the Whitfield County Fire Department; the fire onboard the USS Bonhomme Richard has finally been extinguished after four days; and new high-tech thermal-imaging cameras for early wildfire detection are being beta-tested in three Utah cities.

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1) Newly erupted wildfires  in Colorado shut down I-70 west of Glenwood Springs and caused significant delays on Wednesday afternoon. The I-70 closure began near New Castle and continued until Silt, about seven miles away. The cause of the multiple wildfires is unknown, but fire crews quickly responded and the highway was reopened after about an hour.

2) As California shutters for a second time due to COVID-19, one public transportation mode is in jeopardy of shutting down — at least temporarily — in the Bay Area. Ridership has plummeted by at least 90 percent on Caltrain, an essential Bay Area public transport system, which is now struggling to remain open. Nearly 70 percent of the transit system's budget is provided by riders' fares. The lack of riders has left a massive deficit, which threatens the future of public transportation in the Bay Area.

3) Firefighters began battling a new blaze that erupted in San Benito County, California, on Wednesday afternoon. According to CalFire, the Coyote Fire prompted evacuations, burned at least three structures and was threatening nearly 50 other structures. Although no injuries have occurred, evacuations remain in place. The blaze, which has consumed at least 1,400 acres, was 80 percent contained as of Thursday evening.

4) A CalFire investigation has determined that transmission lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to the northeast of Geyserville were the source of ignition for the Kincade Fire in October of 2019. The wildfire, spurred by strong winds, low humidity, and tinder-dry brush, ignited on October 23 and ripped through the Sonoma Valley. Before it was contained, the Kincade Fire had scorched 77,758 acres and destroyed 374 structures, including homes.

5) The Chattanooga Fire Department responded to an apartment fire on Thursday evening, which quickly engulfed the building and threatened other nearby structures. Firefighters helped residents evacuate the building and were also able to rescue several owners' pets from the burning building. As of Thursday evening, investigators were unsure what had started the fire, which began in the attic of The Hills at Oakwood Apartments just off Highway 58.

6) The Whitfield County Fire Department in Georgia has received specially designed oxygen mask kits to assist domestic pets involved in a fire. Provided through the Project Breathe program sponsored by Invisible Fence, the cone-shaped pet oxygen masks will more easily fit over the faces of domestic pets, including dogs, cats, birds and other animals. To date, Invisible Fence has donated a total of 10,665 pet oxygen mask kits across the nation. The kids include three masks (small, medium and large), a laminated card with oxygen amounts based on animal size/weight, and engine stickers to remind firefighters that the kits are on board the trucks.

7) After four days of intense firefighting, the fire onboard the USS Bonhomme Richard burning in the San Diego naval base has finally been extinguished, but firefighters remain on alert for hot spots that could reignite. The ship, which caught fire on Sunday and experienced two explosions, burned for four days as firefighters struggled to contain the worst fire onboard a military ship outside of wartime. At one point, the fire reached 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. On Wednesday, the ship listed toward the pier and in the opposite direction on Thursday. Although the ship is still likely repairable, it is unknown if repairs will be made or the if the warship will be deemed unsalvageable.

8) The threat of wildfires across the western United States often remains very high each summer. Rapid and early detection of a new blaze is key in efforts to quickly contain a wildfire. The newly developed Early Detection Wildfire Imaging Network (EDWIN), has thermal-imaging cameras that are being beta-tested in three Utah cities. Used for early detection — especially along the wildland-urban interface — the new, highly advanced EDWIN Project thermal-imaging cameras can allegedly detect a hotspot once it reaches 300 degrees and convert it down to a tiny pixel. The data is instantly transmitted to the fire department, which can respond quickly, likely even before smoke is visible.


Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.