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Drones Are Helping Firefighters Combat the Wildfires in California


Morgan Hatfield, Social Media Intern, Consumer Technology Association

The Ferguson fire in California has burned over 96,000 acres since its ignition on July 13. That’s about half the size of New York City. The dangerous air quality and quick spreading has led to the evacuation of over 10 communities in the Yosemite National Park area

"The fire is so big and so fast moving that it's impossible to have people on the ground to bring that data in and hand draw or even get that intelligence in a computer," said Situation Unit Leader Damian Guilliana.

Drones are being used to combat the wildfire and have been successful in showing where the fire is, how quickly it’s moving and in which directions so that strategic planning can be executed.

"To have a platform that can see through smoke and actually go around the fire and pick those spots out and be able to communicate that back down to the ground and back up to us, so that way we can mitigate the spot is game changing," Guilliana said.

With infrared technology, the drone can pinpoint where the wildfires are currently and which direction they are moving. This allows for the firefighters to go in on foot and know the boundaries to use as the fire control line (the built or dug out barriers to prevent a fire from spreading).

The drones have been able to save valuable time with fighting this large wildfire, relaying information in minutes that used to take up to 48 hours to accomplish. As of Saturday, August 18, the wildfire was 100 percent contained.

Watch the drones in action:

See the latest in drone tech at CES 2019, January 8-11.

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