Firefighters use drones to fight Woodward Fire burning in Marin County

Bay Area

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Firefighters battling the Woodward Fire in West Marin County hope to increase the containment which is only at 17-percent on Monday night.

The Woodward Fire just got some high tech support to help douse the flames and stop the spread in the national forest.   

The fire has been raging for the past two weeks. 

Progress has been made, but not as much as they want. Helicopters can’t fly because the air quality is so bad.

Now, firefighters are turning to drones to fight the fire with fire.

It is swift, efficient and helps keep firefighters safe.

This UAS, or unmanned aircraft system, commonly referred to as a drone, is setting backfires in the Point Reyes National Forest as crews attempt to lasso the stubborn Woodward Fire.  

“This is the first fire that I’ve been involved with, it’s the first fire the operation has been involved with. He was a little reluctant at first, he’s sold, he wants one on every fire now,” Laura Barrett said.

Laura Barrett is with the air operations branch with the U.S. Forest Service.   

The Woodward Fire started August 17 from lightning strikes igniting dry brush. 

Evacuations forced many out of their homes in the surrounding areas, wildlife is being threatened, while cooler temperatures have aided in the fight, the rugged thick terrain has not.  

Aircraft normally used in these circumstances can’t fly because of the poor air quality.  

“The brush here hasn’t burned in nearly 100 years. It is so thick.  The drone is not only safer but cheaper.  It does work efficiently.  At first, we were hesitant, but now we want a lot more,” Barrett said.

Barrett says they hope to pull in some more drones to help out – adding this is a tough fire to beat.

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