GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — Crews working on the Grizzly Creek Fire are using drones to drop fire balls in an effort to get flames away from community members and homes while also protecting their teams.
“In these tough remote areas, we get them up high on the ridgeline, that offers a lot of opportunities,” Unaweep Wildland Fire Unit Leader and Drone Operator Kelly Boyd said.
Boyd is on his 19th season of fighting fires. This is the third year he’s worked as part of the unmanned aerial system.
Boyd and his team use drones to drop ping-pong sized plastic spheres from the sky. The spheres, called “Dragon Eggs”, hold fiery chemicals that ignite small explosions.
“We start our own fire and hopefully remove all the available fuel in between that fire break and the main fire, so when the two touch it goes out,” Boyd said.
Last week, Boyd and his two-person unmanned aerial team, deployed about a thousand Dragon Eggs over the course of a day.
“We will drop roughly about 200 at the high ridgelines and then we will sit and see what it does.”
Grizzly Creek Fire officials provided FOX31 with footage from above and below. View Nicole Fierro’s story to see the drone point of view vantage point.
“It takes about 20 to 30 seconds for this reaction to take place and that’s about the time it takes for the ball to hit the ground and settle into place and start this kind of ignition that we have,” Boyd said.
Boyd asks the public to avoid using their drones over any wildfire operations for the safety of teams and the community.
“If we have the public flying their drones we don’t know who they are and where we are going so we have to shut down operations until we can confirm there’s no more unknown drones out there,” Boyd said, adding “We already have a tough time with aviation and loss and life and fatality so we don’t want any undue harm to our pilots out there.”