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Texas First-Responders Using Drones To Monitor Wildfire Threats

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KRLD) - The heat has left North Texas vulnerable to grass fires, but a new tool is giving Johnson County firefighters an edge.

Firefighters are experimenting with camera mounted drones as a way to get up over area fires. Once in the air the camera relays information back to first responders. The images give firefighters a better idea of how large a blaze is and what might lay in its path.

"It gives us an eye in the sky so we can get better situational awareness," says Burney Baskett, director for Johnson County emergency services. "We've unfortunately had a number of fires this year, and drones have been a huge asset in helping us scout them out."

Using drones to see over fires is a plus, since they take only minutes to launch. Helicopters, meanwhile, could take hours. Baskett said, "Instead of us spending hours driving or walking to the site of a fire, we can launch this almost immediately and get a birds eye view."

Johnson County has already put out several grass fires recently as North Texas has dealt with the heat and dry conditions. They say the drones, and the information they provide, have already saved several residents' property and crop lands.

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