FireTrac Captures Astonishing Scar Burn Aerial Image from Elgin Bridge Fire in Arizona

FireTrac is the definitive wildfire tracking app built by the aerial firefighters at Bridger Aerospace, whose mission is to save lives, property, and habitats threatened by wildfires. 

Late in the morning of May 23, 2022, Arizona Forestry crews began to work the Elgin Bridge Fire a quarter-mile northeast of Elgin, Arizona. Elgin, about 45 miles from Tucson, a small town that is home to 300 people.

Though small, Elgin is Hollywood famous. The train sequence in “Oklahoma!” was filmed in Elgin. As were scenes in  “3:10 to Yuma,” “Red River” (starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift), and “The Sons of Katie Elder.”

Not long after the Elgin Bridge fire was extinguished, FireTrac pilot Rich Mutari and sensor operator Ryan Powell flew over the fire to capture high-resolution scar imagery.

“The Elgin Bridge Fire was one of three fires we mapped that morning,” said Powell. “We notified the Region 3 Aircraft Ops Manager that we would be overhead. We arrived after the fire burned out to capture high-resolution electro-optical imagery of the fire scar. We also checked for hotspots with our IR sensors but found none.”

“We were overhead for less than 10 minutes and then off to the Black and Bear Trap Fires,” Powell said. “Capturing fire scars offers historical fire data for post-fire analysis. It’s also beneficial for evacuees to see their property before they are able to return so that they can make necessary arrangements based on their needs,” according to Powell.

FireTrac planes are equipped with the wildfire mapping TK-7 sensor from Overwatch Imaging. The TK-7 is a multi-spectrum precision survey payload designed to provide advanced precision mapping and multi-image orthophoto capabilities. The sensors can quickly synthesize high-fidelity aerial imagery and detect anomalies, including hot spots.

The sensor uses a nadir-oriented multi-megapixel color focal plane array (FPA) and co-bore-sighted infrared (IR) sensors integrated with an onboard image processing system.

Once the Elgin Bridge fire climbed Mustang Mountain, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff issued evacuation orders for all residences along Mustang Ranch Road.  The FireTrac imagery clearly shows how close the fire came to homes and businesses.

In addition to high-resolution imagery, the FireTrac app provides local, up-to-date fire information, neighbor chat, and the ability for people to report fires and upload their own imagery.

The FireTrac app was created by Bridger Aerospace, an industry leader in aerial wildfire management, relief, and suppression. Bridger offers comprehensive and task-specific solutions to provide maximum support to firefighters on the ground.

FireTrac imagery is captured in partnership with Overwatch Imaging. Bridger Aerospace has partnered with Overwatch Imaging to launch an aerial fire-mapping platform capable of providing high-resolution fire imagery to app users. With Bridger’s aircraft and the Overwatch TK-7 Earthwatch camera system, users can access accurate fire maps to stay informed of critical intel.

Visit or download the app in the Apple or Google Play app stores.




Ryan Mason
Ryan Mason
Ryan is an accomplished writer and aerial photographer that has worked in the aviation industry for over a decade before co-founding AerialFire Magazine. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Ryan is a former police officer that focuses his writing and photography efforts on para-public operations and agricultural aviation.

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