California ANG deploys Predator to support firefighters
With wildfires continuing to rage around
The aircraft, flying from the
"The impact of this will be significant," Keegan said. "It will identify where fire activity is located and how it is moving, as well as where it has been controlled."
The aircraft also will identify safe routes of retreat for firefighters on the scene and verify new fire created by lightning strikes or floating embers. This, Keegan explained, will help the incident commander stay on top of the changing situation on the ground and make the best use of available resources.
Keegan emphasized that the images will be used only to support firefighting operations.
The aircraft's pilots, located at March Air Reserve Base in
Meanwhile, nearly a dozen aircraft and crews from the
California Army Guard helicopter crews and California Air Guard air tanker crews are working in coordination with the
In addition to two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters supporting operations at the Rim Fire, three Black Hawks are battling the American Fire and two Black Hawks and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter are flying in support of the Swedes Fire, Keegan said.
Another Black Hawk -- with a specialized crew and a hoist for extracting injured personnel from rugged terrain -- is staged in
At the Rim Fire alone, the helicopter crews have completed 905 drops, releasing more than 450,000 gallons of water and fire retardant since the crews were activated
"In times of crisis, it is imperative we pull together as a united front against the threat of wildfires in our state," Baldwin said, noting that the California Guard regularly trains for the mission.
"Working together in a climate of cooperation with (state officials), our soldiers and Airmen are committed to preserving the lives and property of our neighbors who are threatened by this emergency," he said.
The Rim Fire is not the first in which
Those flights were conducted during daytime hours, complemented by nighttime imaging flights from
The current mission, officials said, is the longest sustained mission by an unmanned aircraft in
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