Aerial firefighting conference
Fire Department Network News has an interesting video report (no longer available) about the Aerial Firefighting Conference that was held February 19-20 in Garden Grove, California. This was the second of at least three that are planned. The first one was in Athens, Greece last year and the next one will be in Australia.
Australia cancels order for Global Hawks
The Australian government canceled an order they had placed with Northrop Grumman for some Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) because the delivery date was pushed back to 2015. They had planned to use the aircraft for monitoring bushfires and for maritime surveillance.
Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said the order was canceled because the delay meant the arrival of the aircraft would conflict with the introduction of a new manned surveillance aircraft.
Senator David Johnston spoke out against the decision, saying they had been working on the project with the United States for 10 years, and:
“Plus it had a fantastic capability with respect to bushfire monitoring, and the Californians had been using it very successfully. I actually think it would have gone on to have been able to provide evidence as to arson.”
Occasionally in 2007 and 2008 the United States used a Predator B UAV operated by NASA for monitoring forest fires. In their flights the Predator stayed aloft for 10 to 20 hours while transmitting real-time data to ground forces.
UPDATE: January 8, 2013:
The Australian government has gone back and forth several times on buying or not buying these drones. The latest, according to radioaustralia.net.au in September, 2012, is that the the military wants seven large UAVs flying by 2019. The preferred option is a new, maritime surveillance version of the Global Hawk – the MQ4C Triton. The estimated cost of the project is between $2 billion and $3 billion.
Colorado: 6,500-acre Fort Carson fire
The Quarry fire that started Tuesday on the Fort Carson military base south of Colorado Springs has burned 6,500 acres and is 10% contained. Portions of the fire burned off the base into the city limits of Fountain, prompting some evacuations.
Yesterday the area had record high temperatures, and today there is a red flag warning for strong winds and temperatures in the 70s.
You may remember Fort Carson as the place where a single engine air tanker crashed last year, killing pilot Gert Marais.
Esperanza fire trial
The jury in the trial of Raymond Oyler, accused of setting the 2006 fire in which a U.S. Forest Service engine crew of five died, deliberated for a third day in southern California on Tuesday without reaching a decision.