Forest Fires in Canada: 26 May 2000

Forest Fires in Canada

26 May 2000

Emergency Response Demonstration and Testing in Lillooet – New means of communication utilizing satellite technology
REMSAT – Real Time Emergency Management Via Satellite

The B.C. Forest Service, in cooperation with several area emergency response agencies, is conducting an emergency response simulation in Lillooet this week. The Canadian and European Space Agencies have funded the REMSAT project, and Macdonald Dettwiler and the B.C. Forest Service are undertaking pilot demonstrations to test this state-of-the-art system. “REMSAT” stands for “Real Time Emergency Management Via Satellite” and uses satellite communication technology to concentrate various variables.
The emergency simulation in Lillooet on Saturday, 27 May 2000 is based on the premise that a wildfire has started in an area on the edge of the District of Lillooet community boundary. Homes in and around the boundary are threatened so an evacuation will occur, which will involve the local fire department, police, Provincial Emergency Program, and Cayoose Indian Band. Other agencies will become involved in a support function as the exercise evolves. This demonstration is planned to help local agencies test their response to an emergency incident under the Incident Command System (ICS).

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Fig.1. & 2. Remsat Lillooet Camp and portable terminals for the fire fighters.

For the second consecutive weekend, MacDonald Dettwiler and the British Columbia Forest Service will simulate an interface fire and put REMSAT to the test. If it passes, the technology will be employed this summer in the battle against real wildfires. The box is in constant communication with three satellites that allow the central fire command post to know the exact location of ground crews. It enables them to exchange text messages with the crew and look at detailed images of the area. Each fire fighter has a hand-held terminal that allows them to send and receive text messages in the field. This is an advantage over radio communications, which often get jammed in big blazes. With a text message, which also pinpoints the location of the sender, the crews can quickly request extra supplies. One of the satellites provides the central command post with near real-time pictures of the fire, showing the fire fighters what the terrain looks like, including the amount of undergrowth and location of buildings and underground gas lines.
MacDonald Dettwiler aims to develop REMSAT into a generic system that could be used anywhere in the world to manage the response to any type of major incident such as an earthquake.
Source: Emergency Response Demonstration and Testing in Lillooet by the Government of British Columbia and
Satellites, too, can help fight forest fires by Environmental News Network.


The operational forest fire monitoring website for Canada is providing a current view of all the forest fires in Canada.

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Fig.3. & 4. Satellite image and forest fire overview map of 24 May 2000
(Source: FireM3)

The above mentioned fire situation map can be directly accessed at the Fire Monitoring, Mapping, and Modelling (FireM3) Project website (the FireM3 project is a collaboration of the Canadian Forest Service and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing). Through the Map Link you can access daily hotspot images. An Internet Map Server, which is like a simple GIS running on the host computer, allows you to zoom in on any fire or other area of interest and view the image and map data at full (1km) resolution. You can also click on any fire and get information about that fire.


The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) distributes timely information about forest fires in Canada. The current fire situation for 25 May 2000 can be summarized as follows:

  • over the last 24 hours: 13 new fires for 168 hectares

  • season summary: total of 1,274 fires on 22,283 hectares.

According to the National Forest Fire Situation Report of 17 May 2000, area burned to date has been just over 1/3 of normal, thanks to timely rains and cool weather in large parts of the country, combined with early mobilisation by most agencies. Moister weather has cooled the fire situation over most of Canada. There is no extreme fire risk in any province, although some parts of central Canada continue to have high risk. Most of the country can expect low fire activity to continue over the next few days, due to rain and cloud across most regions.


The Daily Forest Fire Situation Report is listing all forest fires currently burning in Saskatchewan and their current status. This report also gives statistics on the total number of fires to date.
Saskatchewan Daily Forest Fire Situation Report (10:00 AM, 25 May 2000):
There is 1 forest fire burning in the province today.
3 fires have been extinguished in the past 24 hours and
1 new fire has been reported.
The total number of fires to date this year is 124.
The total up to this date last year was 84.
The five year average for this date is 130.

The whole report and further information can be accessed at the fire management website of Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management (SERM).



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