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Firefighters Looking To Artificial Intelligence Technology To Help Fight Wildfires

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Putting a wildfire out quickly is great, preventing one from starting in the first place is even better. How to do that was a hot topic at the Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit Wednesday at Sacramento State.

It turns out, the future of firefighting includes a whole lot of artificial intelligence.

Enview's artificial intelligence system warns utilities about threats that could cause wildfires. It can identify issues such as trees that are too close to power lines.

UC San Diego's "Wi-Fire" lab created a 3D model showing how smoke from the Camp Fire affected Butte County.

Firefighters used the tool to predict how quickly a wildfire will spread and which neighborhoods are most at risk.

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The system can be used as a weather forecast, but for fire instead of rain. And speaking of weather, a remote automated weather station measures wind speed, air temperature, humidity, and more.

Firefighters then get updates about the changing conditions on their radios. It doesn't take long to set the weather stations up near areas that are burning. Experts said they can probably be installed in 10 minutes.

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Keep in mind, all the new technology and gadgets are just tools to keep the firefighters on the ground.

"We still depend on humans, firefighters on the ground physically putting out fires," said Mike Wilson, Cal Fire Division Chief. "When they're out there we need to get them the best tools possible to make the best decisions to keep them safe and allow them to do their jobs the best."

The Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit wraps up Thursday at Sacramento State.

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