Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wildfire Toolbox

In my last blog I laid out the various Over The Air Radio Services where you can keep track of wildfire news. These are the primary delivery systems for firefighting agencies to get the word out to the public. The primary advantage of these services are, they’re free…and they can be heard in your car or on any number of handheld receivers, and you don’t need an internet connection…very handy should you be an evacuee!

On my way up the hill last week, I saw no smoke or other evidence of the Robbers Fire as I passed the vista on I80 that overlooks the fire area. Had I a mobile scanner in my car, at least I might have heard some fire traffic.

I buried the lede there a little. As I drove by, Tuesday July 17 was a very good day for the Robbers Fire…cool temps and higher humidity helped crews make lots of progress. Containment by mid-week was at 65%

The winds were rising, and there’s smoke haze in the air here in Truckee on Wednesday July 18th. The winds are forecast to subside in time for a triple digit weekend in the Central Valley and east of the Sierra Nevada in the Truckee Meadows.

OK, the internet is full of ways to monitor fire news.

Twitter is where I start. You can’t beat Twitter for speedy news delivery, provided you follow the right tweeters. Most fire agencies, National Forests, and Fire Departments use Twitter. Find your local agency and follow them. Look through their followers and follow the accounts relevant to your area.

Local and regional media use Twitter to drive visitors to their websites. These guys update the story every time there’s something new to report. Radio and TV stations as well as local newspapers have robust websites that update the news whenever it breaks. These updates always rate a Tweet.

Once there’s an active fire you wish to keep tabs on, you can do a hashtag search on Twitter and all tweets with that hashtag will appear in your search results. What’s a hashtag? hashtag = #. I found this very useful when I was monitoring the #WaldoCanyonFire (Phonetically this reads “HashtagWaldoCanyonFire”)

Each fire or incident is a little different than the next. I found a local TV weatherman’s tweets most valuable during the #WaldoCanyonFire. I followed him for the duration.

Here's some Fire Tweeters to get you started:

All the major fire information agencies maintain websites that update major fires.

Fire Information Websites:

There are several websites where you can listen to scanner traffic in real time.

Public Safety Scanner Monitoring Websites:

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