A clear view of Santa Barbara's front country mountains, as seen by a wildfire detection camera on Ortega Ridge.
Wildfire detection camera on Ortega Ridge provides a clear view of the Santa Barbara front country. Credit: Courtesy photo

A wildfire detection camera has been installed on Ortega Ridge in Montecito, providing coverage of the eastern portion of the Santa Barbara front country.

The ALERT California camera is part of a growing network of cameras across the western United States that help local, state and federal agencies better detect and suppress wildfires.

Technicians with ALERT California came to the South Coast Jan.  24 to install the camera on private property. The camera’s view from Ortega Ridge provides an unobstructed view of the Santa Barbara front country, including Montecito’s wildland areas. 

The camera provides 24/7 “eyes” on the fire-prone hillsides. It is equipped with artificial intelligence technology that is capable of alerting firefighters of new fire starts within minutes of ignition.

The camera views are publicly available so that community members can gain a better understanding of where a fire is burning. The Ortega Ridge camera can be viewed at https://alertca.live/cam-console/2761.

The camera on Ortega Ridge joins a network of hundreds of cameras that provide coverage of wildland areas. Locally, there are existing cameras at Gibraltar Peak, UC Santa Barbara’s campus, and TV Hill. The TV Hill camera was installed in December.

“The intelligence we can gain from these additional cameras will give us a significant advantage during the initial moments of a wildfire and help us make strategic firefighting and evacuation decisions,” said Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor.

ALERT California, also known as ALERT Wildfire, is a consortium of University of Nevada Reno, University of California San Diego and University of Oregon, providing access to state-of-the-art Pan-Tilt-Zoom fire cameras and associated tools to help firefighters and first responders: 

1. Discover, locate and confirm fire ignition.

2. Quickly scale fire resources up or down appropriately.

3. Monitor fire behavior.

4. Help guide evacuation processes through enhanced situational awareness.

5. Monitor contained fires for flare-ups. 

For more about ALERT California, visit www.alertwildfire.org and https://alertca.live/.