Crews Use Thermal Cameras for Hot Spots

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NEAR WOLF CREEK, Ore. — Burnouts are working to contain one of the largest wildland fires in southwest Oregon but the threat is not over. Fire crews are monitoring the Douglas Complex with thermal cameras.

NewsWatch 12 followed a three-person crew Friday night. They say helicopters can check for hot spots but their work is a bit more accurate.

“As planes go over there’s  trees, there’s shrubs, so on and so forth that could be blocking it. Whereas, we’re on  foot. We’re right there. We can actually see what it is, tell what it is, go straight up to it,” explained Juan Avila.

The crew uses two different types of cameras. The first one allows them to see all of the heat signatures in the forest. The second camera is an infrared system that can see as far as 24 hundred feet to what’s underground up to a foot.

“You can see like a trail of  lava underground so you can  follow the root system,” said Danny Rogers.

While checking for hot-spots, crew members have run across cougars and other wild animals.

“Two nights ago we were looking  at hot spots and they were following us. We looked down and my partner started meowing,” said Rogers.

Even if the Douglas Complex is 65 percent contained, it doesn’t mean their work is done.

“All it takes is some warm  temperatures, low  humidity and a gust of wind  to sometimes bring that fire  back to life,” said fire information officer, Dave Wells.

“We could be here till the snow flies,” said Avila.

The crew will work all night. A team of infrared crews can cover up to 4 to 5 miles a night.