OroraTech & SOPFEU Working Together to Protect the Unique Forests of Quebec from Wildfires

SOPFEU, Societe De Protection Des Forets Contre Le Feu, a fire management service in Canada,  collaborates with OroraTech to enhance their wildfire monitoring and detection system. Together, they are working on developing a special metric that can level up the preciseness of early detection of new wildfires in the Quebec region.

Quebec Province — the Canadian Paradise

Quebec, the largest province of Canada, has an absolutely unique landscape, with over 90,000,000 ha of wild forest covering it. This huge territory is equivalent to 20% of all Canadian forests and 2% of the world’s forest heritage. Quebec stretches through a variety of climates and terrains, thus, its forest life is very rich and diverse. Black bears, white-tailed deers, northern gannets, the blending turtles, and many other unique species are inhabiting the wild area of Quebec. 

"In order to make the information on OroraTech’s platform more accessible and precise, the two teams have joined forces to develop a new metric that will significantly refine the way fire hotspots are detected from space."


At the same time, Quebec’s breathtaking forests are widely affected by numerous wildfires every year. Over the last decade, an average of 472 fires per year turn into ashes 18,831 hectares of maple, willow, hickory, birch, fir, and spruce throughout the province. The year 2020 has been an extremely damaging one, with over 52,000 ha of land burned in total, the majority of which caused by a single fire in Chute-des-Passes

The Chute-des-Passes forest fire, with the size of 50,891 ha, spotted during June-July 2020, with a burn scar detected in the background by Sentinel-2 imagery

A year later, SOPFEU, Societe De Protection Des Forets Contre Le Feu, the fire management service of the province of Quebec, Canada started using OroraTech’s Satellite Wildfire Detection and Monitoring Service (WFS) to enhance their wildfire management plan. 


SOPFEU - the Canadian Wildlife Heroes

SOPFEU was founded in 1994 as a non-profit organization with the mission to provide the best fire protection to the picturesque lands of Quebec. Since then, SOPFEU has become an integral part of the Canadian wildlife community, ensuring the sustainability of almost 45 million hectares of forests under their protection. On top of that, SOPFEU intervenes equally for the protection of communities as well as strategic infrastructures such as electricity, communication towers, and other facilities.

SOPFEU’s team consists of highly experienced, skilled, and dedicated firefighters, protection agents, bird-dog officers, and several other specialized workers who undergo cutting-edge training and education to tackle the most intense blazes.

SOPFEU team during training at Lac Saint-Joseph near Quebec Photo Credit: Gary Yee

Besides that, SOPFEU relies on meteorological observations, forecasts, telecommunication, and data analysis from almost 200 weather stations to ensure that all fires are discovered as soon as possible.

Protecting the Quebec Forests from Space

In April 2021, SOPFEU started using OroraTech’s WFS system, complementing their conventional methods of wildfire detection and monitoring with space technologies. “After our first year of working with OroraTech during the 2021 fire season, we have seen that their services have increased our potential for early detection of new wildland fires, ” says Mathieu Payette, Air Operations Coordinator at SOPFEU Quebec. “We also used their platform to monitor the progression of fires in situations where traditional sources of information are limited, nocturnal progression for example”. 

Another use of OroraTech’s solution that has been especially helpful is for detecting newly born fires that started as a result of a bigger fire spreading, burning the material around its vicinity. As it usually happens in these cases, the wind swirls the smoke in different directions and limits the visibility of the fire from the sky, meaning that planes, drones, and other traditional methods of wildfire monitoring remain quite helpless and blind to detect those newly born fires.

A new hotspot hidden behind a thick layer of smoke can therefore remain undiscovered for a longer time, causing a lot of damage to the forest. Luckily, in most cases, a layer of fume is not an obstacle for a satellite to detect a fire.

A new fire cluster, spotted under the layer of smoke caused by a more extensive fire. Detected in Quebec, June 2022 by OroraTech's wildfire system through the Sentinel-2 satellite

Through the continuous exchange of knowledge and ground-truth information, SOPFEU and OroraTech have been actively working on improving the accuracy of wildfire detection in the Quebec region. In order to make the information on OroraTech’s platform more accessible and precise, the two teams have joined forces to develop a new metric that will significantly refine the way fire hotspots are detected from space. “This metric we are working on together with SOPFEU, can be a game changer in the wildfire detection performance around the world,” says Camilo Pabón, Customer Success Manager at OroraTech. 

Since the beginning of the joint collaboration in 2021, both SOPFEU and OroraTech have gained a lot of value in complementing their wildfire detection and improving the preciseness and speed of fire notification. SOPFEU also remains very engaged in helping out with feedback and information for the mission design of OroraTech’s first constellation of satellites, to be launched into space in 2024.

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