LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KION AND CBSLA) Firefighters are calling an aircraft a "game changer" when it comes to battling wildfires in the state.
Intel 24 can fly thousands of feet above a fire and see through smoke by using infrared and radar technology. It can also transmit live images to fire commanders on the ground which would help crews map the perimeter of the blaze. This would also help crews predict where the flames may go next, and predict the path using artificial intelligence.
“The big difference is we are responding immediately. We are not waiting for requests,” said Chief Brian Fennessy of the Orange County Fire Authority. “We are communicating with the decision-makers from Sacramento all the way down to the firefighter in the back of his suburban, making decisions on the incident in front of him.”
A super computer at the University of California, San Diego maps weather and wind to predict where the flames will go. Then, drones are launched to pinpoint hot spots.
California finished trials on the wildfire weapon. Firefighters say it is the most technically advanced civilian aircraft in the world.
Intel 24 was used during a Santa Ana wildfire in Malibu over the weekend. All homes in the area were saved.
The technology comes as devastating wildfires scorched California last year. In August, more than 370 wildfires were burning, mostly in Central and Northern California. A large number of those fires were sparked by about 11,000 lightning strikes over four days.