A B.C.-based tech firm has created an animated map of the Nanaimo Lakes fire as part of testing new satellite data processing to rapidly generate accurate maps of how wildfires spread and the damage they cause.                                Photo: map image used with permission of Hatfield Consultants.

A B.C.-based tech firm has created an animated map of the Nanaimo Lakes fire as part of testing new satellite data processing to rapidly generate accurate maps of how wildfires spread and the damage they cause. Photo: map image used with permission of Hatfield Consultants.

Nanaimo Lakes fire a model for new satellite mapping technology

B.C.-based technology company uses Nanaimo Lakes fire to create animated map of fire progress.

A wildfire near Nanaimo is being used as a model to help a B.C. technology firm develop new technology to develop faster and more accurate ways of assessing wildfire spread and damage.

North Vancouver-based Hatfield Consultants is an environment assessment and monitoring company that works with private and government clients around the world.

The company is currently gathering satellite data from B.C.’s wildfires to create animated maps of fire spread and burn severity. On Sunday, the Nanaimo Lakes fire was first detected by thermal sensors aboard NASA MODIS satellite, which prompted Hatfield to start gathering infrared images from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites and begin running the image data through Hatfield’s R-BAM, Rapid Burn Area Mapping, technology to map the progression and intensity of the fire.

Andy Dean, Hatfield senior geomatics specialist, said the Nanaimo Lakes fire gave Hatfield a local example of a wildfire to work with.

“That’s one of the reasons why we did it,” Dean said. “It’s close to home for us, right, as well, so we’ll do a few fires in other parts of the province, but it’s close to home so we thought we’d take a look at it.”

Satellite infrared imaging can provide more accurate information about the extent of a fire than aerial observations because infrared imaging systems can penetrate smoke layers. R-BAM technology takes that information to produce accurate animated high-resolution maps of fire growth and how severely areas within the fire area are burned. Dean said the technology is being further developed to combine infrared data with radar data to also conduct fire mapping through heavy cloud cover, which attenuates the effectiveness of infrared.

Dean said the company worked with B.C. Wildfire last year using its technology to assess the after effect of wildfires – it also examined the Fort McMurray, Alta., fire – to study how to would best apply resources to help recover burned forests.

“It was for post-recovery planning,” Dean said. “What we’ve done recently is we’ve improved the capability to process the data very quickly, so now it’s about one hour from the time we get a satellite image, so now we’re contacting and approaching – as this wildfire season is suddenly become worse – the different agencies to let them know that we’ve got this capability.”

Hatfield has produced a map of the Nanaimo Lakes fire showing its spread since and what areas were most severely burned.

“In any emergency response situation, if you can provide the decision makers with high quality information in a timely manner, then it can support them to make good decisions in the field in terms of the response,” Dean said. “Not to say that this is yet something that they would be applying operationally in the field. We’re still developing and testing it, but we wanted to let people see the capabilities and kind of information that can be produced now, but I think first responders need to take a very close look at integrating any new technology into their emergency response capabilities, so I hope this is something that they’ll take a look at.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Ladysmith area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

The Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary donated $23,044 to Ladysmith Seconday School. From left to right: Steffen Toxopeus, Larry Shaw, Dave Travers, and Duck Paterson. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary donates $23,044 to support health of LSS students

The money will go towards funding the Hunger Bites program and purchase emergency supplies

(File photo)
LETTERS: Responses to Pateron’s Perspective

Jacqueline Leitch-Murphy, and Richard Tarnoff respond to Duck Paterson’s column

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Ladysmith driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Most Read