NIFC mobilizes military aircraft to assist with wildfire detection and mapping in western U.S.

 
16 August 2017

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USA -  BOISE, IDAHO – The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) has mobilized two military aircraft to boost capability to detect and map wildfires in the western states.

Approximately 50 large wildfires are currently burning on about 275,000 acres of land in eight western states. NIFC has mobilized two military RC-26 aircraft to augment U.S. Forest Service aircraft capability to provide incident awareness and assessment support and to map wildland fire perimeters.

The military aircraft are being provided on a rotating basis by various Air National Guard units.

They will be operating from Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington and Mahlon Sweet Field in Eugene, Oregon. The aircraft, which are equipped with infrared sensors, will fly over wildfires during the day and at night.

The data they gather will be downloaded to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysts and fire managers who will use it for tactical response and to create maps of fire perimeters.

“Receiving timely and accurate infrared information is critically important because it enables fire managers to respond quickly as new starts are identified and determine where suppression operations have been effective and where more work needs to be done,” said Dan Buckley, Chair of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group at NIFC. “Having the military aircraft will boost our capability to provide these services to more fires on a more regular basis.”

Two State of Colorado “Multiple Mission Aircraft” were also mobilized earlier this summer to assist with wildfire detection and mapping. Those aircraft are currently operating from Redding, California and Missoula, Montana.