Drones help firefighters in California

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TINA: SOME OF THE MOST VITAL AIRCRAFT FIGHTING THE FIRES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RIGHT NOW DON'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO DROP ANY WATER OR PHOS CHEK.

BUT THESE MQ-9 REAPERS DO HAVE SENSORS THAT CAN SEE THROUGH SMOKE AND FEED BACK LIVE VIDEO DATA...

NOT JUST TO THE PILOTS AT MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, BUT TO FIRE COMMANDERS ON THE GROUND TOO.

COL. SEAN NAVIN / 163RD ATTACK WING COMMANDER: "WE CAN SHOW THEM WHERE THE FIRE'S MOVING. OR IF THE EMBERS START FLYING 4 OR 5 MILES AWAY, THEY HAVE LITERALLY REAL TIME DATA AND THEY CAN START TAKING THEIR LIMITED RESOURCES AND PUTTING THEM WHERE IT COUNTS MOST."

THE AIRCRAFT FLY AT ALTITUDES TWICE AS HIGH AS OUR NEWS HELICOPTER CAN, WHERE THE WINDS DON'T AFFECT THEM AS MUCH.

AND BECAUSE THEY'RE REMOTELY PILOTED, THEY CAN BE OPERATED AROUND THE CLOCK...

THEY DON'T HAVE TO LAND FOR PILOTS TO SWAP OUT...THEY CAN STAY IN THE AIR AND HOVER OVER A FIRE FOR HOURS.

"I'VE FLOWN AIRPLANES MY WHOLE CAREER. AND WHEN YOU'RE FLYING BY, NOT FIGHTING FIRES, JUST FLYING BY SOMETHING AND LOOKING DOWN, YOU DON'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO STOP. WITH AIRPLANES YOU GOTTA KEEP MOVING."

THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD AND CAL-FIRE IS STILL FAIRLY NEW...

THIS WEEK WAS THE FIRST TIME MANY OF THE PILOTS HAVE FLOWN OVER AN EMERGENCY IN THEIR OWN COMMUNITY.

LT. COL DANIEL STROMBERG / 160TH ATTACK SQUAD COMMANDER: "IT'S DEFINITELY DIFFERENT AND IT DEFINITELY MAKES IT MORE IMPORTANT, WE'RE MORE VESTED IN INSURING THE GUYS ON THE GROUND TAKE CARE OF THE FIRES."

BECAUSE IT'S THEIR NEIGHBORS ON THE GROUND...IT'S THEIR HOMES THEY'RE TRYING TO SAVE.

FROM WHAT THEY CAN SEE RIGHT NOW, IT DOES LOOK LIKE THEY'RE MAKING PROGRESS.

"I'M OPTIMISTIC. IT'S SCARY WHEN YOU HEAR OTHER FIRES POP UP, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, I THINK WE'RE MAKING A DIFFERENCE AND I THINK WE'RE GOING TO GET THEM UNDER CONTROL."

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