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Teller Co using new technology to simulate wildfires - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Teller Co using new technology to simulate wildfires

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WOODLAND PARK -

With the heavy vegetation and steep terrain, many worry that Teller County will be the next place to have a large wildfire.

Its something firefighters are well aware of, which is they're turning to some new technology for help.

Its called the Sim Table, and basically it's a sand box combined with an overhead projector hooked up to a computer. It can map out terrain and vegetation, then simulate a fire based on different weather conditions.

The Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District borrowed it from the Black Forest Fire Protection District for about 2 weeks. During that time they took it through more than 300 scenarios that helped with everything from pointing out the highest risk areas to how they should respond.

When Teller County fired up the Sim Table they got a new view of some old problems.

"Southern facing slopes with stiff winds. Those are definitely our extreme fire areas and we're surrounded by those areas in Woodland Park," said Division Chief Vernon Champlin.

They've known that for years, but luckily they don't know how a major wildfire would effect them because they haven't had one in a long time. The Sim Table gave them a pretty good idea.

"We have such good success putting out these small fires. This gave us opportunity to see how if we don't get on them quick, just how rapidly they can spread," said Champlin.

And it wasn't just for the command staff.

Each firefighter took part and many of them said it was definitely eye opening, but seeing the damage and how fast the fire moved was only part of it.

It also simulated a fire fight to help the fire district put their trucks and crews in the best spots.

"You can see access points you couldn't see before. You can see open fields and safety zones you couldn't see before because you're used to looking at it from the road," said Captain Margo Hill.

And not all there scenarios were good ones.

"You throw resources at a fire and you expect results, but you don't always get those because of Mother Nature," said Hill.

With that in mind, they said the fight starts now because if you look around Teller County its easy to see the firefighters can't possibly do it on their own.

"We're really reaching out to the community and property owners to do work on their properties," said Champlin.

It's something some people here loud and clear, while others could care less. Because of that, they're happy to hear the firefighters are just that much more prepared.

"It makes me feel safe. I love the technology and it makes me feel happy and safe because I have kids," said Tiffany Rowe.

Firefighters said this was just a huge benefit, but they hope to never have to play out the scenarios in real life.

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