Fighting Wildfires Goes High Tech With Laser Drones, Sensors and Satellites

An aerial photograph of smoke plumes rising from the fire at Fraser Island in December 2020.
14 December 2020

In October, a sensor mounted on a 28-foot pole in the Australian countryside detected small particles in the air near a timber plantation and sent out an alert.

When plantation staff arrived, they found a small man-made fire that was already under control, but the incident offered a glimpse of how authorities hope to use new technology to battle wildfires that have grown increasingly intense in recent years.

As a new fire season begins in Australia—a recent wildfire ravaged about half of Fraser Island in the country’s east—researchers are looking to rely more on technology to find blazes quickly and better predict their path.

A months long government inquiry into the devastating 2019-2020 fire season in Australia, which killed more than two dozen people and burned an area bigger than Washington state, concluded that authorities need to be better prepared and recommended that officials work with the private sector to develop new technology.

Read the full article on The Wall Street Journal website, featuring Dr Marta Yebra