California firefighters are using a Predator drone to help monitor the 12-day old wildfire threatening Yosemite National Park, the Associated Press reports.
The so-called Rim Fire, one of the largest California wildfires on record, is now 30 percent contained, but officials hope the drone can help them monitor flare-ups, identify new fires and keep the blaze under control. The drone is an MQ-1 unmanned aircraft that can fly for up to 22 hours without refueling, a big improvement over the fuel-guzzling helicopters previously used to monitor fires.
This is California’s longest sustained drone mission to broadcast fire information in real time. Firefighters hope to get the fire under control soon, but expect it will keep burning until California’s dry season ends.
The Rim Fire has destroyed 11 homes, endangered ancient Sequoia trees and threatened San Francisco’s water supply at Hecht Hechty Reservoir, although firefighters are now confident that the reservoir is safe.