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Drones To Help Monitor Washington State Wildfires

Drones to be used to monitor WA forest and wildfires
Drones to be used to monitor WA forest and wildfires (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

This is a practical use of an unmanned aerial vehicle we can accept.

Washington State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark announced Tuesday that a drone will be used to help monitor wildlands during fire season.

Normally, DNR -Department of Natural Resources- uses airplanes or helicopters to monitor movement and direction, as well as size, of wildfires.  But smoke, wind and other conditions affecting visibility can ground them.   There’s also the issue of potential loss of life, especially for aircraft that get close to these dangerous blazes.   Due to the radar and other technology of the drone, they can often get into obscured areas pilots can’t fly through.

According to information released by the DNR:

“In 2014, the Washington state legislature granted authority to DNR to use UAVs for the specific purpose of wildland fire monitoring and suppression.

Any decision on whether to use a UAV will be made in real time and depend on emergency conditions around a particular wildfire.  If a UAV is warranted, the agency will use a “ScanEagle,” which is built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing. The aircraft is about four feet long, has a 10-foot wingspan, weighs about 40 pounds and is equipped with cameras. “

Despite the just-announced complete burn ban on all DNR-protected lands,  officials are predicting a tough, possible record-setting fire season, due to extremely high heat and dry conditions.

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