LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - California has just finished trials on a wildfire super weapon that firefighters say will be a 'game changer' when it comes to battling the state's wildfires.
Intel 24 is able to fly thousands of feet above a fire and see through smoke using infrared and radar technology. It can transmit live images to fire commanders on the ground and help predict the path of major wildfires using artificial intelligence.
Firefighters are calling it the most technically advanced civilian aircraft in the world.
"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."
CBSLA got an exclusive look at the new technology that will be helping firefighters battle blazes.
Intel 24 was used during a Santa Ana wind-driven wildfire in Malibu over the weekend. All homes in the area were saved.
When a wildfire erupts anywhere in the state, the superweapon is launched. In seconds, infrared cameras on-board map the perimeter.
A supercomputer at the University of California, San Diego maps weather and wind to predict where the flames are headed. Then, drones are launched to pinpoint hot spots.
The state has approved keeping Intel 24 in service with one in Southern California and one in Northern California for the future.
The technology comes as devastating wildfires scorched the state 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.
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