From Supercomputers to Fire-Starting Drones, These Tools Help Fight Wildfires | Innovation

As devastating wildfires rage throughout the American West, fire agencies across the region are turning to cutting-edge technologies from supercomputers generating near-real-time fire maps to fireball-dropping drones to enhance the way they respond to these disasters.

Fires are still won and lost through grueling work on the field and relatively low-tech tactics such as burning strategic areas close to the edge of an active fire to slow or stop its progress and spraying water and foam to slow the blazes. The best tools are often simple ones: saws, bulldozers, water hoses.

However, with climate change contributing to more frequent, more severe and larger blazes that threaten humans, infrastructure and natural resources at unprecedented levels, response and suppression methods need to evolve. Innovations are providing firefighting crews with extra tools to detect, contain and…