They’ve been involved in warfare for years now so it only seems natural that drones would begin to take over flight duties on forest fires, where government agencies are looking for every opportunity to avoid putting humans in danger. This footage, taken at night, was from last year on the Klondike Fire in southwest Oregon. These drones were dropping incendiary balls in places where agencies didn’t want to send pilots or man-power but still needed to fight the fire by burning ground in front of it.
According to the post from the Washington and Oregon BLM, drone flights doubled last year from the U.S. Department of Interior. “The flight increase went from just under 5,000 in 2017 to over 10,300 last year,” the agency wrote. “The BLM, long a leader in unmanned aircraft, accounted for 38 percent of those flights, according to the 2018 DOI aviation report.
The DOI now has about 530 drones and 360 certified pilots across all of its agencies. The BLM accounts for about 150 of those pilots. All of this amounts to what the agency is calling the largest domestic drone program in the U.S.”
Safety is the agency’s number one concern. Drones can fight, and map, fires without putting pilots in harm’s way, especially at night. According to the post, the Klondike Fire was the largest in the country last year and cost nearly $105 million to fight.
You can learn more about the DOI’s drone program, here.