FOCUS: A System for Investigating the Cause and Origin of Forest Fires

Rafael Olmedo, Luis Burillo, José Salvador Romero

Every year, 20,000 wildfires in Europe devastate 100,000 hectares of land. Of these fires, 90% are caused by people and 54% are intentional. Most of these fires require legal investigations to determine their origin, cause, and starting time. The starting point is located based on traces left by a fire in a process called the Physical Evidence Method. To identify a fire’s path, investigators use markers (small red and white flags) as indicators of direction, locations of evidence, and starting points. The high degree of vulnerability of forest areas and the difficulties encountered by investigation teams require new technical solutions to improve procedures in fire origin location and data registration. FOCUS proposes the development of an integrated forest-fire investigation system that provides real-time data interpretation for identifying fires’ starting points, along with reliable information based on accurate field measurements and field data registration. Through integration of different functionalities in a single portable electronic device, one single unit can replace the entire field investigation kit.