The Washington Department of Natural Resources is installing a network of cameras to detect wildfires in remote areas.

DNR is partnering with T-Mobile and Pano AI, a San Francisco technology startup, and has installed cameras in 12 locations with plans to install nine more by the end of next summer.

Each station is outfitted with two high-definition cameras that are able to turn 360 degrees. The footage will be analyzed by artificial intelligence and when smoke or a fire is detected, a staff member at Pano AI will review an alert before it is sent to DNR’s dispatch center.

Since the cameras are able to pinpoint the exact latitude and longitude of the fire, DNR officials say the technology will improve the department’s ability to get resources on scene and alert nearby communities. The cameras have already assisted with the initial attack on several fires, including one at Crater Creek, according to DNR.

The locations were chosen for being in areas where fires occur frequently and where the view overlooks DNR-managed lands. Funding for the pilot program came from a 2022 legislative bill, DNR assistant division manager Angie Lane said at a news conference.

A DNR spokesperson cited a GeekWire report when asked about the program’s cost. GeekWire reported earlier this month that the annual cost of the program was about $948,000, with each site costing about $45,000.


Lane said the department hopes to use the cameras during prescribed fires. While Pano AI has customers in Australia and in six U.S. states, DNR is the company’s first state government customer.

DNR Commissioner Hilary Franz said at the news conference that the current number of cameras is not enough given the size of the state but she hopes the agencies managing private, federal and tribal lands will also invest in the technology.

This year’s wildfire season has been “challenging,” Franz said, mentioning the fires in Spokane County, which killed two people. However, DNR has increased the number of permanent and seasonal firefighters and other staff have been responding quickly, she said.

The cameras or their footage are not accessible to the public, according to Pano AI.

In August, Lake Wenatchee Fire and Rescue announced it also installed two wildfire detection cameras that use AI technology to provide early detection near Nason Creek and Lake Wenatchee. The cameras are separate from the DNR program and are a partnership with a few organizations including the University of California, San Diego.