Fire Experts Fight Fire with Fire

By: David Norris Email
By: David Norris Email

CAMP SWIFT, Texas Fire fighting experts from Texas A&M Forest Service, along with others from around the nation, gathered at Camp Swift in Bastrop County Wednesday to study potentially deadly wildfires.

Using high-tech equipment, crews studied a controlled burn from the air and ground. Air drones circled the skies, mounted with infra-red and high-definition cameras, and sensors on the ground studied the fire's movements and patterns.

"This is probably the first research burn where we've had all of these entities come together in a collaborative effort for the benefit of public safety and firefighter safety," said Mary Leathers with the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Data from the burn will be gathered and assembled into a computer program. The program will eventually be made available to fire fighters around the world.

Experts hope it will help to better fight wildfires like the one near Plantersville in 2011. That fire burned thousands of acres of land, caused massive evacuations and destroyed dozens of homes.

The data collected could even change the way new homes are built.

"The eventual development of improved codes and standards, and also information they can have for their homes and the vicinity of their homes," said Ruddy Mell, Combustion Engineer with the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire was such a success, experts are already gearing up for the next one, which could happen as early as March.

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