AlertTahoe fire cameras stopped 50 fires in Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

AlertTahoe fire cameras stopped 50 fires in Lake Tahoe

Volunteers help install and AlertTahoe sensor.

In recent years, a program combining innovative technology with on the ground firefighting efforts has helped prevent more than 50 fires.

Known as AlertTahoe, the program consists of a system of networked sensors designed to protect the Lake Tahoe Basin from catastrophic wildfires, earthquake and other natural hazards.

The sensors are cameras installed around the Tahoe Basin, on an independent network that remains connected even during emergencies or outages. These cameras sense smoke or catch wildfires and alert firefighters before the fires spread beyond a containable distance.

"In the past few years, more than 50 fires have been stopped before they reached 1 acre in size," Heidi Hill Drum, Tahoe Prosperity Center CEO, said in a press release. "This is important because it means our local fire agencies were able to get to these fires quickly and put them out before they caused loss of life, property damage and environmental and economic harm to our region."

The cameras are a partnership between Tahoe Prosperity Center (TPC) and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR).

UNR builds and maintains the cameras and alerting system, which connect directly with fire agencies around the Tahoe Basin, and TPC partners with UNR to help raise funds for the cameras and bring additional volunteer and community support to the program.

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The program, according to TPC, is now being expanded throughout the western states due to its success.

In 2017, TPC Board members and Tahoe area Rotary clubs raised funds for one of the nine cameras currently in the region. Volunteers from Rotary carried equipment to the camera at Slide Mountain (Mt. Rose) and to the Big George (Whittell High School) camera, which were both installed last year.

There are still two more cameras to install to complete the AlertTahoe goal of 11 cameras for the Tahoe Basin. TPC is seeking contributions at http://www.tahoeprosperity.org/investment-campaign/.

Fire danger rises following dry winters. According to TPC, there were less than 10 fires in the summer of 2017. But in the summer of 2016, there were more than 30.

The AlertTahoe Camera system is designed to catch fires early and prevent disaster, but all residents should be prepared for fire, TPC warns. Residents should have a plan in place, keep important documents in a fire safe or backed up and be sure your home has defensible space.

The cameras can be found online at http://www.alertwildfire.org/tahoe/firecams.html.