How the U.S. fights forest fires and why innovation is needed

Some of the largest wildfires ever recorded are raging across the west. Millions of acres have burned in California, Oregon and Washington. Smoke has reached as far as Europe. 

Firefighters like Michael Seaton, who lost his home in the deadly 2018 Camp Fire, have worked more than a month straight.

“So you’re out on the line for two days and you’re sleep deprived out there. So I’ve seen people standing up with their eyes closed and they’re basically asleep,” said Seaton, a CAL FIRE engineer.

“All of this is on the heels of wildfire emergencies in 2019, 2018 and 2017 that points to the pattern of how climate warming is predisposing large landscapes to unprecedented fire activity,” said Doug Morton, Chief of NASA’s Biospheric Sciences Laboratory.

Heat waves and drought have left a thick layer of dry vegetation easily sparked by people and lightning. Although nearly 85% of wildland fires in the U.S. are caused by humans, people continue moving to fire-prone areas in droves.

“How are we as a country spending our money? Are we going to have an F-35 dogfight with the Russians or the Chinese? Maybe, but the more likely thing is we’re going to continue to burn our citizens over,” said Graham Kent, a seismologist who runs a system of cameras that help quickly assess fires.

New tools to fight fires

For decades, firefighting has been slow to change. Now, Kent is among a handful of mostly small groups bringing new solutions to the way we fight, detect and prevent wildfires.

With this season’s fires burning within miles of Silicon Valley, home to the world’s tech giants and some of their billionaire leaders, Kent and others are calling for more money, and ideas, to stop the trend.

“They should be involved in wide scale fuel reduction

Save $47 on Airthings Wave, the brilliant smart home gadget you never knew you needed



graphical user interface: Best Smart Home Devices 2020


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Best Smart Home Devices 2020

  • Many smart home gadgets focus on convenience features, but there’s one device you need that actually helps keep you safe.
  • It’s called the Airthings Wave Plus and it monitors the air in your home to alert you automatically of things like radon and other airborne toxins.
  • The mid-range Airthings Wave has an even deeper discount right now at Amazon, and the new Airthings Wave Mini that also detects mold is available for just $79.65.

When you thing of smart home devices, the first things that come to mind are undoubtedly neat gadgets that focus on convenience features. Philips Hue smart LED light bulbs are undoubtedly at the top of most people’s lists, as are all the smart devices out there that work with Amazon Alexa. Another cool one is the MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener, which lets you open and close your garage door from anywhere in the world using your iPhone or Android.

Those are all great gadgets that you should definitely check out, but there’s a relatively new type of smart home device that’s about more than just convenience. Instead, the Airthings Wave Plus and other Airthings devices are there to help keep your family safe.

The high-end Airthings Wave Plus is an air-quality monitor that senses things like radon, elevated CO2 levels, and airborne toxins (Total VOCs). It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and gives you instant readings as well as reports. Audible alerts warn you of problems with the air quality in your home, of course, so you don’t need to worry about connecting your phone in order to check for problems. This model typically costs $230, but you’ll find it on sale right now on Amazon for $197.50.

$197.50: $197.50

An even deeper discount can