Fighting Rim Fire Goes High Tech - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Fighting Rim Fire Goes High Tech

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KMPH) -

A new fighter has been deployed in the battle against the Rim Fire. Fire crews have added a California National Guard Predator Drone to their arsenal.

The drone will be used as a set of eyes that can spot danger that human eyes on their own can't.

The California National Guard MQ-1 drone launched Wednesday, giving firefighters real-time pictures, and a birds-eye view of the 300-square mile wildfire.

Planes made more than two dozen drops, using 42,000 gallons of fire retardant and 20 choppers are also on the front lines, dropping water on hot spots. Because the wildfire is consuming a very rugged and steep area of forest, much of the battle is done from above, while firefighters are doing the back breaking work below, creating wide open spaces and setting backfires to keep the fire from advancing.

In the last couple days, firefighters have accomplished small victories, increasing containment from 20 to 30 percent in a day, which has been the largest day-to-day gain during the nearly two-week battle. Firefighters hope, with the help of the unmanned aircraft, they'll be able to stay one step ahead in this battle.

On its first day, the drone flew 20 hours. Unlike fixed-wing planes and helicopters, drones are not grounded at night.

The drone costs about $800 day to operate.

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