MEDFORD, Ore. — 6,000 feet above Southern Oregon, a recon flight for the Oregon Department of Forestry laid out coordinates on nearby smoke. With weather conditions heating up and drying out since thunderstorms moved through earlier this week, smoldering fires are now growing.
Lightning strikes plagued the region, and in the sky, on an iPad, each hit is searched to see if ground resources need to head that way.
“We’re looking at the map on our lap in electronic version and the ground folks have the same identical map in paper copies, so, we can reference accurately where we’re at in reference to them,” said ODF Forest Officer Jesse Blair.
One of the smokes discovered Thursday morning was spotted by a camera on a mountain top, but typically they’re spotted by simply looking out the plane’s window, which is harder than it sounds.
Smoke can be so thin or light at first, it takes flying from multiple directions to fully cover the area. Multiple directions and multiple flights are all in a day’s work following thunderstorms. The reconnaissance flights will continue every day until there are three consecutive days without any smoke.