Protecting Yosemite: Predator Drone, Elite Native American Crew

Firefighters have to mind restrictions in the national park

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 28, 2013 7:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Firefighters now have about 23% of the Yosemite wildfire contained, and news outlets are spinning off plenty of interesting stories about the battle:

  • Native American crew: Among the teams fighting the fire is the Geronimo Hotshots, an elite crew of American Indians from the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, reports NPR. The story recounts how firefighting jobs are prized among young men on the reservation, where unemployment is high. Six other Native American crews work elsewhere in the US.

  • Predator drone: The California National Guard sent aloft its Cessna-sized drone today to give firefighters an aerial. The unmanned aircraft can stay up for 22 hours at a time, a huge advantage over the usual choppers. It's already helped, alerting firefighters to at least one flare-up way earlier than normal, reports AP.
  • Federal complications: Because the fire is partly in Yosemite National Park, firefighters have to mind restrictions on the protected land. They can't deploy bulldozers, firetrucks, and flame-retardant chemicals as freely as they normally would, reports the LA Times. "In extreme cases, officials order smoke jumping crews to parachute into backcountry and drop supplies and tools."

Two firefighters monitor a back burn during the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.
Two firefighters monitor a back burn during the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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