Emergency Management Uses Satellite Technology To Detect Possible Wildfires

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LEFLORE COUNTY (KFSM) -- The National Weather Service and Oklahoma Emergency Management are teaming up to use a new technology that uses a satellite to detect hot spots.

"It uses the satellite and the radar systems that they normally use for severe weather to help us detect possible wildfires," said Michael Davidson, LeFlore County Emergency Management manager.

The watch board allows emergency management to see where the hot spots are, giving exact coordinates. The board shows icons where the hot spots are located and based on color, the icons can tell management whether the fire is being worked on or contained.

The new technology sends emergency management a text alert with the location of the hot spot.

"What they're looking for are heat signatures and smoke plumes," Davidson said. "When they detect one of those two items, they will send us a text and email notification that they see a hot spot or smoke plume and it allows us to go out and investigate that as a possible wildfire."

With the alerts, first responders are able to get to calls quicker, potentially saving lives and property.

"We have so much mountain and forest area, so we don't have a lot of eyes in places," Davidson said. "So, if they can see these potential fires popping up on satellite and radar, it gives us more of a leeway to get out there and get control of them."

All emergency management teams in Oklahoma are testing out this new system.

Emergency management will also use the technology to track and report severe weather.

LeFlore County, along with 53 other counties in Oklahoma, are under a burn ban until Feb. 24. That ban has been issued by Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin.