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Drones Helping Fight Rim Fire

TOULUMNE COUNTY –

Predator drones have been helping to battle the Rim Fire since Tuesday evening, but that almost didn’t happen.

The region’s cry for that kind of help was lost in the department of defense.

Due to the insidious nature of this blaze, last Sunday the National Guard sent a request to Washington asking for the help of predator drones.

Tuesday afternoon, the guard still didn’t have an answer.

That’s when Congressman Tom McClintock of Roseville stepped in and got Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to sign off on the situation.

The signature was required before the equipment could be released.

Some veteran combat pilots attacking the Rim Fire from the air now have the help they need.

“They say this is the most dangerous flying they have ever done. They have to stay close to the ground and they can’t see the ground which is required in this mountainous terrain. The predator drone can look through the smoke and haze and that’s why the drones are essential to the efforts,” said McClintock.

The congressman says after the Rim Fire is over, he will be looking into how such an important request for the predators could have been lost in the department of defense.