Ninth grader invents a wildfire warning system

The video shows Sahar Khashayar demonstrating a wildfire detector on the Tonight Show.

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.”

UPDATE: June 5, 2015:

The  Orange County Register has an update on Ms. Khashayar and her device.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Ninth grader invents a wildfire warning system”

  1. Impressive student!

    I know there was/is research on using the natural energy produced by a tree to power fire detection devices at, I believe, U of Washington.

  2. Quote from site (
    “Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation winner Sahar Khashayar was inspired to study wildfire detection after hearing about Arizona’s deadly Yarnell Hill fire in 2013. She was moved to explore whether a mix of hardware and software could spot the early signs of a fire better than humans could. Sahar created a device using temperature and gas sensors, along with an infrared sensor and processor board to detect the three main signatures of fire: heat, smoke and infrared radiation. She also wrote a program to send a warning via Bluetooth® to a smartphone if her detector measured any values suggestive of a fire. She concluded that deploying a network of her $60 early wildfire detection devices could save lives and property.

    Sahar was selected because she demonstrates both vision and promise as an innovator, and in the spirit of radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi, has shown aptitude and skill in applied electrical engineering concepts in her science project and in the STEM challenges throughout the week.”


Comments are closed.