Firefighters getting help from new tech to put out hot spots

The drought this year is making the brush fire season even more of a challenge for North Texas firefighters. Often, a threat remains after the flames are gone.

Now, firefighters are getting some extra help from technology to find and put out the hot spots.

Johnson County is using drones and thermal imaging to prevent brush fires that burned this week from flaring up again. It keeps firefighters from fighting the same fire twice.

Even after a brush fire has stopped burning, it's not out. The hot spots remain out of sight like a pilot light waiting to reignite.

"That is one of the issues we faced in the past. You put out a fire and you think you've gotten all the hot spots,” said Jamie Moore with Johnson County Emergency Management. “Now that we have the technology, it can help us literally put the fire out and not have to go back out a day later to fight the same fire. We put that technology into use, and we've done that with the Retreat fire."

The Retreat fire was one of two brush fires this week in Johnson County that threatened a couple dozen homes. As hot spots are located by a thermal camera, firefighters flag those spots and return at daylight to put them out.

Rain is expected in the next few days. If it comes, the relief will only be temporary.

"Unless it continues to rain on a regular basis, we will experience wildfires,” Moore said. “That is just Texas fire season this time of year."

The drone is also used at the start of a brush fire to identify the quickest entry points for firefighting equipment over rough terrain.