New tech helped firefighters defend homes in Carlsbad

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CARLSBAD, Calif. — Firefighters who contained this week’s Park Fire in Carlsbad, keeping it from spreading through a dense residential neighborhood, had some impressive high-tech help.

The relatively new technology is called FIRIS Intel 12. It provides fire crews with a bird’s eye view of how the flames are developing.

“This was the first fire we’ve used it,” said Carlsbad Assistant Fire Chief Nick Ordille. “Very useful technology to help us put this thing out.”

As flames raced up a hillside, a plane overhead captured images and, in real-time, fed video both in color and infrared to the command post.

“The color paints the general picture of the topography and what you’re dealing with to help orient you. Then the black and white gives you that picture of where the spot fires and issues are,” Ordille explained.

More than 200 homes were evacuated as embers landed on rooftops. Video shows a palm tree exploding, with the wind blowing embers all over.

“(From the ground) you can’t necessarily see over on the other side of some of these buildings. You can’t see every bit of what we’re trying to look for,” Ordille said. “So with that overhead view and the infrared view, it does give you a picture that paints where we have needs and how to address those needs. Very useful.”

Firefighters contained the fire to about three acres with no major damage to structures. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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