CENTRAL POINT, Ore -- The Oregon Department of Forestry detection operators are working to spot any fires that may start. You won't find very many manned outlook stations left in our region.
The detection center is a room full of monitors, maps and coordinates. Operators check almost every inch of ODF land in Jackson and Josephine county. "Everything that is essential for detecting and responding to fires takes place here." said Brian Ballou with ODF.
ODF use to have manned lookout towers, but not anymore. "The cameras really have paid off." said Ballou. These cameras are on 24/7. The cameras are monitoring for any types of fires. "This type of system, it's day and night. It never takes breaks. It never goes down to the outhouse or goes to the grocery store. They are always on looking." said Ballou.
There are 13 camera lookouts across both counties. These cameras do more than show a pretty picture. "There is actually a dual way of detecting where the lightning strike took place." said Ballou. He adds the cameras have a triangular lightning tracking system. It can tell operator's the GPS location of where the lightning strike was detected on camera. "The accuracy is pretty darn valuable now." said Ballou.
It's not just lightning that causes fires. We all know humans do too. Operators can manually zoom in and focus on an area when smoke is spotted. This is another way ODF is helping keep our forests green and the valley clear of smoke.