Division of Forestry adds drones for 2017 wildfire season

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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) Fire season is here and the division of forestry is deploying a new tool that will save money, time and potentially lives.

Starting this season, drones will be used to help locate fires, create maps, assist crews on the ground, and limit risk in Alaska.

Along with improving safety, the drone could also save forestry a lot of money.

The division of forestry says the hourly cost to operate one of their helicopters is anywhere from $800 to $1500 plus a 3-person crew.

This drone only costs $300 total and only requires one person to operate.

"The exposure, sending people through a deep gully or terrain or the hazards of the fire and smoke itself. We can send this thing up and 3 minutes later have a bird's eye view of exactly what's going on. So it saves those guys from slips, trips and falls in the wood, woods, just any exposure is really out the door," Cal Maki a wildland fire and resource technician said.

One drone will be based in Palmer, the other in McGrath.



 
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