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PG&E Contracted Aircraft Help Spot Wildfires from Above

AUBURN -- Pacific Gas & Electric has contracted a number of aircraft  through the end of October to help spot wildfires from above.

This fire season, 28 fires have been spotted by PG&E's early detection program. Last year, a total of 142 fires were spotted by those contracted planes.

"Their job is to detect smoke," project manager Neil Fisher said.

"I've marked five so far, starting from June 18 this season," pilot Aaron Cambridge said.

Pilots fly daily from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Five planes cover roughly 40,000 square miles each -- from Santa Barbara County to the California-Oregon border.

PG&E has been doing this every fire season since 2014.

"The pilot's role is to report the fire and then let Cal Fire manage it from there," Fisher said.

When a pilot spots smoke, they relay GPS coordinates to PG&E. PG&E then sends that information to the appropriate agency.

"Every fire we're able to report is viewed as a success. That includes the quick response and suppression of it to begin, and hopefully that fire will be under control quickly," Fisher told FOX40. "That's the goal."