‘Eyes in the sky’: Nebraska State Patrol drones help crews battle wildfire

LINCOLN, Neb (KLKN) – Firefighters received help from above while batting a large grassfire in southwest Lancaster County on Sunday.

That help came from Nebraska State Patrol drones, which made it easier to find hot spots and fires in the area.

“It gave the firefighters an idea of where things were happening and how intense things were,” Trooper Matthew Maus said. 

Maus said the drones were even helpful in preventing the loss of property and life. 

“Last night there was one incident in particular where the drone was up watching a fire approach a barn,” Maus said. “They were able to call in a tanker truck to be able to tack that blaze.”

He said drones work similarly to cameras, but they can go up to 400 feet in the air. 

This helps troopers get an aerial shot, which helps first responders have an idea of where the fire is going. 

The patrol has been in the drone program for only 18 months and they have been able to assist in multiple wildfires across the state.  

Maus says Sunday’s wildfire brought on challenges that drone crews haven’t yet.

“This is very much the same thing that we’ve done in the past, it was the winds, the weather conditions that made it a little more difficult.”

The patrol’s program has over 40 pilots who operate over 40 drones.

“They’re just eyes in the sky to allow a different perspective,” Maus said.

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