December 23, 2003

CDF La Cima connection in the Cedar Fire post-burn area

When the Cedar Fire, starting in late October 2003, consumed more than 280,000 acres in San Diego County, it did not leave out highly scenic areas between the Cuyamaca and Laguna mountain ranges. There fire also raged around the La Cima camp of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Voice and data communications in the camp were lost on October 28, although very spotty cell phone coverage was available. The CDF approached HPWREN to help with restoring communications after this major crisis event, as the camp location is so remote and deep in the burned area, that phone line recovery is not expected for months to come. The HPWREN team obtained permission from the San Diego Sheriff Department's Wireless Services Division to utilize one of their communications facilities to connect La Cima to the HPWREN backbone. An additional solar-powered relay site became necessary on a hilltop near the camp for line-of-sight to the backbone.

While the primary objective of HPWREN connection is Internet connectivity, a phone capability was added, using Voice-over-IP hardware, to connect the La Cima camp via HPWREN with a real phone line at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD.

A fixed network camera is planned for the near future to allow for the creation of animations related to long-term environmental recovery in the burn area, as seen from the hill-top relay site. The site is a good choice, due to its views towards the Cuyamaca Mountains, as evidenced in this composite of two images from a handheld camera.

A site survey was done on Thursday, December 18, followed by the installation on Tuesday, December 23.

"La Cima Fire Camp has been without communications since the Cedar Fire took out our phone lines," said Randy Lyle, CDF Division Chief at the La Cima Conservation Camp. "We relied on them for telephone and dial-up Internet service. Thanks to the HPWREN work, we are back in business with better service than before. Many Thanks."

The installation has been a real team effort between HPWREN, CDF firefighters helping at the La Cima camp, and the support from the Sheriff's Department.

addendum December 30, 2003: La Cima camera images are now available at: /cameras/

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