There has been an interesting high-tech development in the battle against the Rim Fire in and around Yosemite National Park in California, which started August 17th.
According to the InciWeb website, the fire, located 3 miles east of Groveland, has already burned 199,237 acres [311 square miles]. To date, 4,500 structures are threatened, 112 structures have been destroyed and the fire is only 32% contained. Despite the staggering statistics, firefighters now have a unique tool in their toolbox: a drone like the ones used by the military, to help them battle the blaze.
The drone is being used to fly over very remote, unpopulated areas to give firefighters a better look at the fire. What does it do? From its unique overhead vantage point, the drone actually takes photos and sends them to firefighters who then can map the fire’s progress and better observe its behavior. Apart from this tactical advantage, there are several other pluses to using a drone: it needs less fuel, it requires less downtime refueling and the pilot works from the safety of the ground, which reduces the risk of injury or even death. In some cases the drone allows for better field communications when it is used as a communications "repeater" in rugged terrain.
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