Engineers deploy drones to survey Marshall Fire, gather lessons for future disasters | CU Boulder Today
Banner image: Engineers survey the foundations of a home burned in the Marshall Fire. (Credit: Casey Cass/CU Boulder)
The drone whirs to life on a driveway in the Spanish Hills neighborhood of Boulder County. Its four spinning motors lift it to nearly 200 feet above the ground. Below, the cul-de-sac comes into view, revealing the stone chimneys and blackened foundations that dot the hillside—what remains of many of the houses in this neighborhood after flames swept through on Dec. 30 and into the morning of Dec. 31 during what would become known as the Marshall Fire.
Brad Wham trudges through the snow to join about a dozen other researchers who have gathered to watch the flight this morning. They’re wearing hard hats and neon safety vests. As an engineer at CU Boulder, Wham studies how water pipelines and other “lifelines” can maintain their functionality during natural hazards, such as earthquakes and wildfires. He also lives in Louisville, Colorado, and had to…