SAN DIEGO ( — Firefighters in Southern California now have an “eye in the sky” to help them battle wildfires.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports a new Cal Fire aircraft is the first of its kind in the United States.

Officials with SDG&E and UC San Diego unveiled a $200,000 infrared camera and other equipment installed in Cal Fire’s spotter aircraft.

The technology allows a camera lens mounted on the belly of the aircraft to “see” though smoke to help relay timely information to firefighters.

“We can actually have a computer in our vehicle where we can actually get that live footage and control it with what really looks like a Nintendo controller and we can control that camera on the bottom of that aircraft and direct it toward where we need to see,” Cal Fire’s Mike Moller said.

Fire officials can then use that data to zero in on hotspots and possible targets for water and fire retardant drops.


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