Local

Metro Fire faced a ‘truly unique fire’ on a river island. A drone helped fight the blaze

Get a look at last night’s grass fire on Rio Island in the American River

The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Station deployed one of its drones to take thermal images of the Rio Island of July 19, 2019, which were broadcast in real time to the incident commander in order to aid firefighting efforts.
Up Next
The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Station deployed one of its drones to take thermal images of the Rio Island of July 19, 2019, which were broadcast in real time to the incident commander in order to aid firefighting efforts.

At 11 p.m. Thursday, the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Station contained a fire on an island on the American River, according to Diana Schmidt, a fire inspector.

Schmidt said the fire’s location called for the deployment of some of the station’s advanced technological resources, including a drone for overhead thermal imaging.

The images were broadcast in real-time to the drone pilot and the incident commander in order to map out the fire, locate its hot spots and identify areas where firefighters could safely beach their rescue boats, she said.

Large differences in temperature between the fire and its surroundings – cool river water – permitted the production of exceptionally clear thermal images, Schmidt said. Other fires, like those that burn in grass fields on hot days of up to 110 degrees, can’t be imaged as cleanly.

Schmidt said the fire station responded to calls from residents from across the river who had caught sight of a fire on Rio Island, which is sandwiched between the southern boundary of Arden Arcade and the northern sweep of La Riviera.

Although Rio Island is located in a no-fly zone due to its proximity to Mather Airport, the station had received advanced clearing to fly and was able to immediately deploy one of its drones.

Though the fire was located in dense brush – difficult firefighting terrain – firefighters were able to contain it shortly after 11:08 p.m.

On the station’s Facebook page, a community member questioned the need to put out a fire on an island when water could act as a natural barrier.

But Schmidt said Rio Island’s terrain of dense brush and tall trees created the risk of embers, especially considering the Delta Breeze on the river. She called it a “truly unique fire.”

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

Chalay Chalermkraivuth, from Yale University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee. She reports on arts and entertainment, the LGBTQ community and social justice. She grew up in Bangkok, Thailand.
  Comments