Goal of FUEGO
We want to design, build, and operate a system that will continuously observe a large Earth surface area from space to quickly detect, characterize, warn about, and monitor wildfires to greatly enhance the response to and early suppression of such fires.
The Wildfire Problem
Wildfires have become a larger and larger problem in recent years due to both their increased intensity and greater areal extent. The consequences of their increased intensity are most dramatically displayed by the almost complete destruction of the town of Paradise, CA. The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history, and the most expensive natural disaster in the world in 2018 in terms of insured losses. The fire caused at least 85 civilian fatalities. It covered an area of 153,336 acres (620.5 km2), and destroyed more than 18,000 structures, with most of the destruction occurring within the first four hours. By January 2019, the total damage was estimated at $16.5 billion. The Camp Fire also cost over $150 million in fire suppression costs, bringing the total cost of the fire to $16.65 billion [Wikipedia, Camp fire].
Reasons for the increased wildfire intensity and destruction are manifold, the most important being accumulation of flammable material in forests, severe droughts due to climate change, and the increased spread of human housing and infrastructure into the wilderness.
Consequences of large wildfires are not only the loss of human and wild animal life, destruction of human infrastructure, generation of huge amounts of smoke and carbon dioxide emissions into the air, but also interruption of human activities, destruction of natural beauty, and the loss of recreational possibilities.
We propose an operational space-based early warning system that will be capable of constantly monitoring the western part of the United States and detect wildfire in their early stage of development.