California Wildfires

A firefighter works against the Lake Hughes fire in Angeles National Forest Wednesday, August 12.

Recent California fires have required assistance from firefighters across the State, including Imperial County and city fire departments.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, crews continue to battle 26 major wildfires in California with more than 18,200 firefighters on the front lines. Firefighters responded to 23 new initial attack wildfires statewide, Wednesday, September 23.

Firefighters use different technology, systems, and tactics for fighting fires, including aerospace technology.

Jim Burke is the corporate contact for L3Harris — a global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions meeting mission-critical needs. They provide technology across air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains, according to the website.

Burke explained the increasing use of drones in helping to fight fires.

“California firefighters are increasingly deploying drones to provide important situational awareness — enabling them to better spot fire trends and determine the best and safest way to deploy resources,” Burke said.

Aerial wildfire management with the use of drones provides relief and suppression abilities to deliver services that make firefighting more efficient, less dangerous, and ensuring effective deployment of resources.

Burke explained drones can be deployed quickly to fly overhead and provide real-time visual and heat imagery to command centers using special sensors.

“The residents and firefighters remain the true heroes — this technology is a tool to help make them smarter and safer,” said Burke.

According to its website, Bridger Aerospace is the only full-spectrum aerial firefighting service provider in the United States. Their drones collect aerial data to support wildland fire operations, search and rescue, and emergency management. 

Manned aircraft are not allowed to fly low visibility or unnecessarily hazardous conditions over an active wildfire, unmanned systems will be primarily used to provide incident commanders an additional tool for accurate fire intelligence, according to the Bridger website.

Bridger Aerospace has been in the field tackling forest fires, providing air attack solutions, day and night. Their drones use multi-sensor, aerial imaging systems fitted with electro-optical and thermal sensors to provide intelligence in all light conditions, allowing firefighters to have accurate information no matter the time of day or level of light.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 8,000 wildfires, burning more than 3.6 million acres in California. California’s fire activity elevated August 15, causing 26 fatalities and over 6,700 structures destroyed, according to CALFIRE.

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