Drones Deployed to Help in Fight Against Alberta Wildfire

image source: Reuters

Release the drones! After a raging wildfire has displaced over 88,000 residents from Fort McMurray, Alberta, firefighters have been struggling to control the blaze. The fires have devastated the town, and this is expected to be the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history. Local authorities and firefighters are now enlisting the help of drones to pinpoint the cause of the blaze and provide insight on how they can more effectively fight it.

excerpt from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/alberta-irefighters-are-using-drones-2016-5

A raging Canadian wildfire grew explosively on Saturday as hot, dry winds pushed the blaze across the energy heartland of Alberta and smoke forced the shutdown of a major oil sands project.

While the fire isn't responding to conventional fire-suppression tactics, firefighters and local authorities have turned to a high-tech solution to fight the fire: drones.
Elevated Robotic Services — which usually deploys drones for mining companies — has been contracted by the Alberta government to help firefighters pinpoint the cause of the blaze, according to Reuters.

"It's like Google Maps but 100 times better," Mat Matthews, the company's operations and safety manager, told Reuters.
The drones will take images from the air, and hopefully pinpoint the blaze's ground-zero location to within a 30-foot radius. From there, investigators can search on foot for potential causes, and use that information to fight the fire.

The fire that has already prompted the evacuation of 88,000 people from the city of Fort McMurray was on its way to doubling in size on Saturday, the seventh day of what is expected to be the costliest natural disaster in Canada's history.


Jonathan's picture

Update to this story:

Calgary-based Ventus Geospatial was given an emergency complex restricted special flight operations certificate (SFOC) by Transport Canada to provide drone assistance in mapping out the fire-ravaged regions of Fort McMurray, Alta. 

The Aeryon SkyRanger will be used for a limited period during operations, the company said, adding Ventus has been using Canadian-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) since 2011. The SkyRanger is controlled by a single operator and can fly for up to 50 minutes, according to the company.

source - http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/waterloo-fort-mcmurray-...