Washington state mulls using drones to combat wildfires

As the dry weather sets in and the wildfire season beckons, Washington state won’t have an aerial drone to help combat the expected blazes.
Earlier this year, the state Department of Natural Resources considered obtaining an unmanned aircraft to test during this year’s wildfire season, even discussing the possibility with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has to give approval to launch a drone.

Those plans won’t materialize this summer, but the agency’s interest in using drones remains.

“We’d consider any technology that allows us to more safely suppress wildfire season,” said spokesman Matthew Randazzo. “During wildfires, flying unmanned aircraft for information-gathering purposes is potentially safer and cheaper than manned aircraft, and they may be able to provide more timely and in-depth data to our firefighters on the ground.”

DNR would have been one of the first non-law enforcement agencies in the state to purchase and operate a drone.

As drones continue to enter domestic airspace, their potential uses have begun to take shape, including helping out during wildfire season the country’s often scorched West.

Since at least 2006, drones owned and operated by federal agencies have been used and tested to aid in combating wildfires. That year in a test with NASA, a drone was used to seek out hot spots over a fire in California. In 2011, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection drone assisted fighting Arizona’s largest wildfire on record.

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Source: FOXNews.com National


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