Drone used during the Rim Fire fight

August 28, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters have a new tool to battle the Rim Fire. For only the second time, they're using drones armed with cameras to learn about the tough terrain.

The glow of the Rim Fire will take weeks to go dark, but firefighters are gaining ground. Through traditional techniques like cutting fire lines and clearing brush, they've contained a couple flanks of the fire. They've also added a drone equipped with a camera to their old bag of tools.

"Already that aircraft has been able to pick up a spot that was outside the lines that our infrared cameras did not pick up," said U.S. Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell after he surveyed the Rim Fire for the first time.

Spotting flames sooner can be the difference between stopping the fire and losing control. But firefighters aren't alone in using drones on the Rim Fire. A pair of Fresno natives is using one to help shoot a Christian documentary.

Isaac Piche got his quad copter to shoot explosions in Arizona, but he's finding news uses for it at the Rim Fire as he shoots the faith-based film Into the Fire.

"I'm really hoping to get clearance to fly close to the fires and get some good footage," he said. "This thing will go 1000 feet vertical."

Piche says a higher power has always driven his storytelling and the Rim Fire was no different.

"By the time I decided to go out and shoot, the Rim Fire had just exploded and it seemed like it was this act of God that was magnificent," he said. "It was huge."

Firefighters are driven by more earthly goals.

A crew from the Valley created attack and escape plans Wednesday for people in the community of Twain Harte -- their work still drawing the type of prayer Piche will feature.


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