By Marshall Jones, staff reporter (Capital News, Kelowna, British Columbia)
Local man says his infrared camera allows predictions of fire movement.
If fire officials couldn’t see the Okanagan Mountain Park fire advance through all the smoke, then Curtis Bennett saw more than they did.
Bennett, of Thermografix Consulting, told the Provincial Firestorm Review Thursday that he used his infrared camera to see what no one else could.
More frustrating for Bennett was that no one would let him show the value of the special camera, which he says is far more advanced than typical forward-looking infrared cameras.
“Then I find out they are blind looking through the smoke when I can let them see the direction the fire is taking before it even gets there,” Bennett told the Filmon commission.
He produced a series of pictures he took showing a typical camera view of smoke from Aug. 22.
But in infrared, the fire is seen spreading quickly along the hillside.
In other photos, he shows people milling about on a smoky street. Switch to infrared and you can see the fire on a hillside not far behind the people.
“It is not just the equipment, it is the interpretation of this technology and heat transfer,” he says.
“Why not treat a forest fire for what it is, which is one big hot spot.”
He maintains that using different sensitivity settings, he can see heat build ahead of the fire which, with the right training, might help predict fire movement.
He uses the camera in private commercial applications such as showing structural defects in buildings.
Fire fighters already use infrared cameras in certain applications but Bennett insists he can prove the value of his camera and his know-how.