A fire reporting app that allows users to report and monitor new and spreading fires in real time made its debut in Oregon and across the western U.S. Tuesday.
Watch Duty CEO and co-founder John Mills says it provides vital information in situations where every second counts.
“Last year, there were two deadly fires that took people’s live in California. No one seems to really mention or talk about the fact that those deaths happened within the first hour,” Mills said.
Watch Duty was exclusively launched in California last year.
“I think it would be really helpful. We see something — like I said we’re out in the woods a lot, camping and things — If we see something, it could be reported immediately,” Bendite Glee Snyder said.
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The app is map based, showing users where fires have been reported, with live updates. Mills says other fire reporting apps use federal government feeds of activity, that may be outdated in the event of a life threatening situation.
“[With other alerting apps], you get notified about fires that may be a day old or get notified six hours too late. These are people listening to radio scanners. These are active and retired responders, reporters, dispatchers and folks who live in these areas,” Mills said.
Mills is an engineer living in Sonoma County, California. After experiencing fire season with his neighbors in a high risk area, he got to work.
“The folks I live around have evacuated six, seven times, have lost multiple houses, and they continue to have the same problem of not being told what’s going on in a timely manner,” Mills said.
Mills says the app has been downloaded by more than 500,000 users and is completely free on all platforms.
He says users must be registered with the app to file reports. That’s meant to prevent the spread of misinformation.