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GoPros survive house fire, and lived to tell about it

How do you escape a house fire? After three GoPros survived a 482-degree Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius) test fire, a fire department in New Zealand will use a custom fireproof GoPro rig to create a 360-degree view of such an event – that you can watch in the comfort of your own air-conditioned home – and how to survive from it.

The New Zealand Fire Service, along with FCB Media, tested a three-camera rig earlier this month at a fire training building. Three GoPros with wide-angle lenses were mounted together inside what appears to be a block of fireproof material, though the rig was partially melted at the end of the test run.

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The test video offers a 360-degree glimpse inside a house fire from a single vantage point (the full video, to be produced later, will travel throughout a burning building). Even with the short three-minute test shoot, viewers can watch a small fire on a couch completely engulf the sofa, or turn to watch the firefighter testing how hot the cameras get, or see another firefighter standing nearby with a hose — just in case.

The test run also allowed the crew to experiment with different perspectives — mainly, figuring out what height won’t wreck the view with the smoke.

“We asked ourselves, ‘what if we put people inside a house fire and let them experience how disorienting and fast house fires can be?’” FCB digital creative director Matthew Barnes told New Zealand news outlet Stuff. “It’s quite an immersive way to be in someone else’s shoes.”

Now that the GoPros have emerged from the test run relatively unscathed and with the footage intact, the group is planning a full 360-degree experience of escaping a house fire in a real home scheduled to be burned for a fire training demonstration in October. The 360 video, viewable via a web browser or VR goggles, is designed to help dispel some myths about house fires along with that widespread “it won’t happen to me” feeling.

After the October recording, the group plans to release the full simulation by December.