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UC San Diego experts prepping for potentially bad fire season with new technologies

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 20:44:59-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - UC San Diego experts are bracing for a potentially impactful wildfire season and held a press conference sharing new research and technology they’re using to battle fires.

These experts all emphasized that this could be a terrible year for fires because of current dry conditions. Rainfall levels for the previous winter season are exceptionally low with less than half of what should have fallen since the water year started Oct. 1 in San Diego.

This is due in part to a lack of major winter storms. Atmospheric rivers are moisture-driven storms that help keep rainfall levels high on the west coast, but California has only had one atmospheric river in the last two years.

To try to prepare for a potentially bad year, experts are developing new technology that will help quickly tackle anything that sparks. This includes AI technology and 3D models of vegetation that will help track vegetation growth and density to better predict which areas might burn the worst.

Also, more cameras are steadily being added to the ALERTWildfire system. There are currently 850 cameras in California on this grid. These cameras help officials monitor the state and pinpoint exactly where fires are so they can get to the hot spot quickly. They also are now being used to create visuals of the perimeter of a fire.

“These fires are horrific. We need to fight them in the incipient phase. We need to suppress them. We need to do forest management. We have many things on the list to do but technology is helping us,” said Neal Driscoll, co-director for ALERTWildfire.