- A helicopter hauls supplies to the fire line on the Tepee Springs Fire, now 95,000 acres in size.
According to a news release from the Payette National Forest, the drone will gather real-time information on fire growth, burn intensity, fuels and heat concentrations that will help fire managers strategize how to best contain wildfires. It will also provide data that firefighters can use to assess risks of erosion and runoff, as well as wildlife and vegetation impacts in inaccessible areas.
The project is a collaboration between the Office of Aviation Services and the Textron Company—which oversees brands like Bell Helicopter, Cessna and Beechcraft. The Aerosonde aircraft weighs about 75 pounds, can launch itself and land from a portable trailer. It's piloted remotely from a mobile command center. The machine is quieter, uses less fuel and can be flown during periods of low visibility, unlike manned aircrafts.
Textron is providing this demonstration at the Tepee Springs Fire for no cost to the government in order to demonstrate the capability of drones in firefighting.
Earlier this summer, the National Interagency Fire Center asked the public to stop flying drones near wildfires. Firefighters across the west had run-ins with drones that put a halt to fire suppression.
- U.S. Forest Service
- NIFC started asking the public this summer to keep drones away from wildfires.
- An example of the kind of drone that will fly over the Tepee Springs Fire this week.
The Federal Aviation Administration Temporary flight restriction over the Tepee Springs Fire was modified to let this drone fly. It won't hinder firefighting operations and will only fly over public lands, not private land or designated wilderness.
The fire is currently 80 percent contained. Fire behavior, according to InciWeb, has remained minimal. Cooler temperatures and the possibility of rain will help firefighters reach full containment.