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Drone's imaging helps incident commander plot fire strategy

Posted at 5:11 PM, Oct 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-14 20:11:13-04

Drones aren't normally welcome around wildfires because of the danger of aerial collisions, but it's different when they're helping out at the request of firefighters.

The Daily Courier reports that a drone's thermal imaging camera helped locate hotspots within a very smoky fire at a fire at a former sawmill site near Ash Fork.

Incident Commander James Robbins of the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management says the smoky conditions meant firefighters using water trucks couldn't tell exactly where their water was reaching or how effective it was in extinguishing the flames.

A fire official connected Robbins with Matthew Mintzmyer, a Yavapai College instructor in unmanned aircraft systems.

Mintzmyer says his drone's imaging helped firefighters decide they needed to deploy a second truck to shoot water onto the fire.