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Fire Officials End Successful Test of Drone on Idaho Fire

BOISE, Idaho (KTVB) — A first-of-its-kind mission just wrapped up in Idaho, drones being used to help firefighters get a handle on the spreading flames. For five days, an unmanned aircraft flew over the Tepee Springs Fire north of McCall. The fire was started by lightning back on August 12th and is now about 95 percent contained.

It burned a total of nearly 96,000 acres and forced evacuations in the Riggins area. The Department of the Interior, along with several other agencies, decided to use the Tepee Springs Fire as a testing area for new drone technology.

The project was the first of its kind in Idaho. The unmanned aircraft, or drone, was used to take videos, locate hot spots, and even measure the intensity of the flames. That information was then immediately sent back to the command center, and the agencies involved say it was a huge success.

From 8,000 feet up in the mountains north of McCall, the Textron drone launched above the Tepee Springs Fire. The 75-pound, 10-foot unmanned aircraft was controlled from the ground and could fly a distance of 60 miles. It instantly sent back data and images for up to 18 hours before returning back to the launch site.

They say the goal is to increase the use of unmanned aircrafts to aid in fire suppression efforts across the country, including here in Idaho. No word yet on how much these types of missions could cost.

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