CENTRAL POINT, Ore –Oregon Department of Forestry Dispatch center tracks the lightning storms all over Southern Oregon and Northern California from a room in Central Point.
Dispatchers use a variety of computer weather programs to plot and map the strikes. That information is used to compare to strikes and fires seen by field teams, lookouts, and those called into the dispatch center. All the information is put together so crews can be sent to potential fires as soon as possible. Those who work at the dispatch center say lightning and fires are unpredictable, and fire officials rely on dispatch to make quick and efficient decisions.
“During lightning events we get a lot of reports from our lookouts and detection aircraft, and basically everyone reports to dispatch, and then dispatch plots it and figures out where the smoke report is and sends the appropriate response,” said ODF Dispatch Supervisor.
Dispatch workers also prioritize what fires get the most resources, and sometimes work extended shifts when lightning is expected.