Colorado: A captain involved in the firefighting operation of West Fork has now told the media that the Army Space Support Team (ASST) of the Schriever Air Force Base had to use GPS analytics to control the wildfire.
ASST had planes in the air ready to drop slurry on the fire, but they did not have accurate GPS coordinates to relay to the pilots. When the wildfire almost got out of control, Captain Tim Bouma made a call to GPS Operations Centre (GPSOC). The GPSOC team found out that mountainous terrain and trees were interfering with the GPS signal, so they produced analysis, which indicated “dead spots” on a map for firefighters. “We know where the satellites are on orbit at any given time, so based on that knowledge, we were able to determine the areas where signals could be interrupted,” said 1st Lt. Carson Cleveland, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, Weapons and Tactics Flight officer. “Using the product we provided, firefighters were able to move constantly to areas where they could receive signals.” The information proved invaluable to firefighters on the ground. The GPSOC provided firefighters with GPS prediction charts of the wildfire area near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, every day from June 26 to July 3 and even developed post-event analysis the following week. To date, the West Fork Fire Complex has burned more than 109,000 acres and is 50 percent contained.