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Catching fire: AI helps scarce firefighters better predict blazes

#artificialintelligence

LOS ANGELES, July 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Last summer, as Will Harling captained a fire engine trying to control a wildfire that had burst out of northern California's Klamath National Forest, overrun a firebreak and raced towards his hometown, he got a frustrating email. It was a statistical analysis from Oregon State University forestry researcher Chris Dunn, predicting that the spot where firefighters had built the firebreak, on top of a ridge a few miles out of town, had only a 10% chance of stopping the blaze. "They had spent so many resources building that useless break," said Harling, who directs the Mid Klamath Watershed Council, and works as a wildland firefighter for the local Karuk Tribe. "The index showed it had no chance," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview. The Suppression Difficulty Index (SDI) is one of a number of analytical tools Dunn and other firefighting technology experts are building to bring the latest in machine learning, big data and forecasting to the world of firefighting.


US firefighters turn to AI to battle the blazes

#artificialintelligence

Last summer, as Will Harling captained a fire engine trying to control a wildfire that had burst out of northern California's Klamath National Forest, overrun a firebreak, and raced towards his hometown, he got a frustrating email. It was a statistical analysis from Oregon State University forestry researcher Chris Dunn, predicting that the spot where firefighters had built the firebreak, on top of a ridge a few miles out of town, had only a 10% chance of stopping the blaze. "They had spent so many resources building that useless break," said Mr. Harling, who directs the Mid Klamath Watershed Council, and works as a wildland firefighter for the local Karuk Tribe. "The index showed it had no chance," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview. The Suppression Difficulty Index (SDI) is one of a number of analytical tools Mr. Dunn and other firefighting technology experts are building to bring the latest in machine learning, big data, and forecasting to the world of firefighting.