New camera helps fight fires in Tyler County

WOODVILLE, TX (KTRE) - With the summer just a few months away the Texas A&M Forest Service is looking for new ways to fight fires and they now have a digital weapon.

They are installing a new camera at the Woodville fire watch tower, but it is no ordinary camera.

The sensors they have put in these camera were actually invented by DLR, the German equivalent of NASA.

"It uses a very sensitive high tech sensor that has been used on the mars pathfinder mission and other deep space missions that look at comets and asteroids, said Alfred Stanley of Firewatch Texas.

"It is impressive, the technology is amazing," said Joel Hambrich of the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The sensors were designed to see space particles, and now 'Firewatch America' hopes to use it to see smoke particles from 15 miles away.

"It not only can see a fire when it starts but also in the response phase and help with managing the situation," said Stanley.

"This can be a very serious analytical tool for the fire fighting services," said Randall Wells of Firewatch America.

The camera will be mounted on top of the old fire watch tower in Woodville and will cross paths with another camera in Kirby State Forest, relaying images back to headquarters in college station.

"This is a well developed product not only used in Germany but also ten other countries mostly in Europe, said Stanley.

Twelve million acres of the world's wooded areas are monitored by these cameras, and the forest service is proud that East Texas is a part of it.

"It is a real rural area here in South East Texas so having this technology is going to be huge in stopping forest fires," said Hambrich.

This is all part of a test program.  If the forest service finds it successful they look to have more sensors going up.

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