Ninth grader invents a wildfire warning system

The video shows Sahar Khashayar demonstrating a wildfire detector on the Tonight Show. If you want, you can begin viewing at 1:38, because Jimmy Fallon spends most of that early time babbling.

The Orange County Register interviewed Ms. Khashayar after she became a finalist for the 2014 Broadcom MASTERS competition. Here is an excerpt from the interview:


“Q. Tell me about your wildfire early warning system – how does it work?

A. Basically what I did was I wanted to create something that 1) was cheaper than most fire detecting systems, 2) could detect multiple types of fires and not just smoke and 3) would be able to send a message to someone, so that if the alarm went off and the person wasn’t there, they would still know that it was happening.

Most fire detection systems, like the one we have right now, can cost $200 or more. My entire setup is about $56.

To solve the problem of different types of fires, we have three different sensors here. So there’s a gas sensor to detect carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide or propane gas and all kinds of gases. There’s an infrared sensor, which detects light waves; and a temperature sensor, which is for the ambient temperature for the area it’s in. They’re all connected to a microprocessor, and you can hook it up to your own laptop so it can read the different input from the different sensors.

Right now it’s connected to Bluetooth, which will send a message to your phone if it detects a fire. If this device actually becomes implemented somewhere, we would probably use a GSM, which is basically Wi-Fi, so that it can send a text since Bluetooth has a shorter range.

Q. Where did you get the inspiration to create this device?

A. There have been a lot of fires recently – and not just in California, but all over the United States – and it’s costing a lot of money and even lives. So it’s becoming a huge problem for the environment, for the economy and people in general. It was a problem that needed to be solved.”


Minnesota DNR slash pile escapes after nearly 5 months, starts large fire

A slash pile ignited by employees of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in November continued to burn over the winter and started what became last week’s 4,500-acre Palsburg Fire nearly five months later.

The slash piles were left after a logging operation on state forest lands.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Duluth News Tribune:

[Forestry Division Director Forrest] Boe said DNR Forestry personnel ignited the slash pile that started last week’s blaze Nov. 25. Foresters checked the pile again in December and found embers but determined they didn’t pose a problem because it was winter. A subsequent check March 16 determined the fire was cold.

Then came the hot, dry, windy conditions of April 15, which fanned up a spark that had lingered nearly five months. A DNR detection plane spotted the fire that afternoon.


A UTV burned in the escaped prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park

A 72-hour report on the Cold Brook escaped prescribed fire disclosed that a Utility-Terrain-Vehicle tipped over and was immediately overrun by the wildfire. The report is dated April 23, 2015, ten days after the April 13 escape. We are not aware of a 24-hour report that is often released within a day or two after an incident.

Below is the Narrative from the report:

On Monday, April 13, 2015 the Cold Brook Prescribed Fire at Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, escaped prescription and was declared a wildfire. During the wildfire suppression actions, a Utility-Terrain-Vehicle (UTV) with an operator and passenger, tipped over. The two individuals were not injured and escaped safely, but the UTV was immediately overrun by the wildfire and declared a total loss. The loss of the equipment classifies this incident as a “Wildland Fire Accident”.

We were not able to find any reference to a burned UTV in the press releases or the posts on InciWeb about the Cold Brook escaped fire.

This is not the first time an ATV or UTV has burned in a Wind Cave prescribed fire. During the Highland Creek prescribed fire, October 19, 2002, an ATV was destroyed.

Highland Creek ATV burnover

An ATV burned during the Highland Creek prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park, October 19, 2002. NPS photo.


Western Governors applaud Interior for seeking state input on rangeland fire

Western Governors have expressed their appreciation to the U.S. Department of the Interior for seeking state input regarding policies and strategies to prevent and manage rangeland fire, as well as restore rangeland after fires.

The governors’ outreach also included comments on Secretarial Order 3336: A Set of Longer Term Actions and Activities, Draft Final Report. The comments were included in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewellsigned by WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Highlights of the comments included:

  • Improving Cooperation and Coordination: Western Governors support removal of policy barriers that prevent effective sharing of resources for wildland fire and land management activities.
  • Enhancing Local Response Capabilities: Western Governors embrace DOI’s plan for increased technical assistance to local communities that enhances their ability to play a critical role in initial response to rangeland fires.
  • Voluntary Conservation Efforts: The governors endorse expanded technical support and incentives for livestock producers to voluntarily implement targeted fuel treatments and grazing methods to improve sagebrush-steppe habitat.
  • State Science and Expertise: The governors urge federal agencies to obtain and use state data and analyses as principal sources to inform design and implementation of land management actions for habitat and fuels management, and restoration projects.

Read the letter for more on those issues, as well as comments on Fuels Management, Good Neighbor Authority, Use of Non-Native Species and Removing Invasive Grasses.


Russian fire chief arrested over out of control wildfires

Putin meets with residents

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with local residents and officials of the region at a temporary shelter for people affected by recent wildfires in Abakan, the Republic of Khakassia, April 21, 2015. Photo provided by the Kremlin.

From the Moscow Times:


“Shortly after President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that officials should be held responsible for damage caused by recent wildfires in a southern Siberian region, investigators said the head of a local fire department had been arrested for negligence.

Viktor Zenkov, a district firefighting head in the Khakasia region, “did not personally go to the area affected by the fires or arrange for people and their property to be saved,” federal Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement, adding that the arrest was one of several being made.

The wildfires, believed to have originated as small-scale agricultural grass burning that grew out of control amid abnormally dry conditions, have killed at least 31 people and left about 5,000 people homeless in the region in recent weeks.

During a visit to the region on Tuesday, Putin told Governor Viktor Zimin that firefighting officials should be evaluated “for what they did and didn’t do,” state media reported. The president also told Zimin to promptly distribute aid payments to the victims of the fires and rebuild their homes.

The governor assured Putin that within the next three days the regional government will have paid 90 percent of those individuals entitled to compensation, state news agency TASS reported.

The governor said that 1,722 payments ranging in size from $200 to $2,000 have already been made. He added that the local administration was prepared to rebuild the victims’ homes by the Sept. 1 deadline set by the president.

Putin said he would return to the region in about two months to check on the progress of the work, according to a statement on the regional administration’s website. Last week during his annually televised call-in show, Putin promised $100 million in federal aid to the region.”

Siberia fire

The aftermath of one of the wildfires in Siberia. Siberia Times photo.