Inside the West Coast fires: A visual account

Wildfires have engulfed parts of California, Oregon and Washington, leaving firefighters and other first responder crews to face a roaring, unpredictable monster as they try to contain the blaze and help those in affected areas.

Our FirstNet teams and public safety customers took us on a visual tour of what they’re dealing with on the ground.  


Photo Credit: Joe Melvin, Douglas County Fire District 2


Devastating destruction – So far, the West Coast wildfires have destroyed millions of acres over the course of just a few weeks. More than 30,000 firefighters and support personnel have been assigned to wildfires across the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The images above show the Archie Creek Fire in Oregon blazing across large tracts of private and federal timber lands. Firefighters are working in conjunction with local fire departments, industrial landowners and loggers to construct fire lines and provide structure protection. When the fires first began in August, the FirstNet team quickly jumped in to help provide first responders with much-needed connectivity and devices. Our teams have been supporting day-in and day-out in the weeks since. 


Photo credit: Josh Fien, AT&T Wireless Technician 

Wildfire support – The FirstNet team has been strategically deploying SatCOLTs to help increase coverage in areas affected by wildfires. The image above shows a FirstNet SatCOLT deployed in Gates, Oregon, to support public safety’s response to the wildfires. To support our customers and the public safety community, we've also deployed a fleet of mobile generators and other resources to our facilities and cell sites.


Base camp communications, Dolan Fire – Big Sur, California – Our FirstNet teams deployed a SatCOLT on the base camp for the Dolan Fire. This is providing connectivity for the Incident Command Post and the several hundred first responders at the camp working to contain the fire. In this picture, one of the first responders—the Communications Unit Leader—is holding a FirstNet device from the supply of devices we provided to support base communications and send out critical fire data to those in the field. 


Photo/Video Credit: Courtney Aviation  

Eyes in the sky – This video gives you a first-hand view of what emergency and support crews are dealing with as they work to contain the West Coast fires. This video comes courtesy of Courtney Aviation where they take us up 26,000 feet as they fly above the Bear Fire in California to provide situational awareness and fire weather pattern data back to the Incident Command Post on the ground.

They’re staying connected via FirstNet to share information with the crews below. The connectivity was much appreciated by Courtney Aviation: “Thanks for the help. FirstNet came through when we needed it.”