Infrared camera allowed first glimpse fire storm

By Marshall Jones, staff reporter (Capital News, Kelowna, British Columbia)

Curtis Bennett was among the first, perhaps the only person in Kelowna to see the spread of advancing flames on Kelowna’s south slopes Friday.

The thick, low-lying smoke kept the flames under cover, but Bennett was able to use a FLIR camera, or Forward Looking Infrared allowing him to see the heat right through the smoke.

“It’s amazing. I can see people on the street minding their own business and behind them I can see this mountain of flame,” Bennett says.

When he’s not watching fire activity, Bennett’s consulting company, Thermografix, is always looking for new applications for his camera.

Unfortunately, he says, he wasn’t able to convince the Kelowna Fire Department about the benefits of the technology.

“There’s lots of infrared cameras but not many like this,” he said.

He can pinpoint different temperatures and see hot spots through the smoke. He uses the camera for several other uses including finding pine beetles, spotting marijuana grow operations for landlords and testing cell phones for radiation.

He’s also trying to convince physicians that he can watch a SARS-like fever move through the body and tell if medicine is working.