SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday that California has a new level of cooperation with the Pentagon as it attempts to prevent another dangerous, disastrous fire season.
The Defense Department has agreed to give data from a Cold War-era army satellite to help find new wildfires, and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan gave the California National Guard blanket approval through year’s end to use UAV drones to find survivors, map fires and count destroyed houses.
Officials are attempting to find methods to prevent fires such as the one that ravaged the Northern California city of Paradise last fall, killing 85 people. Utilities are getting ready to shut down electricity during periods of high winds and low humidity to prevent wildfires from sparking, while Newsom is seeking almost $1 billion new funds to prevent and fight wildfires from lawmakers.
Adjutant Gen. David Baldwin, who manages both the air and military branches of the California Guard, said state officials found”a satellite technology which was produced from the Cold War” that can spot tiny wildfires before they could otherwise grow big enough to raise alarms.
“We will have soldiers and airmen monitoring those round the clock to signal CalFire quicker once those fires begin,” he stated, referring to California’s state firefighting agency.
Trump was harshly critical of California’s efforts to thin forests to help prevent wildfires. However, Newsom said the state is”finding methods to work well with the present government,” belying pressure between the Democratic governor and a Republican president.
Along with the satellite technologies, Shanahan is enabling the National Guard to utilize its UAV drones on almost any CalFire performance through year’s end. Previously, state officials needed to acquire independent Defense Department approval every time they desired to utilize the drones, though they have been used occasionally since 2013.
The individual authorizations occasionally took several days, said Rhys Williams,” Newsom’s senior advisor on crisis preparedness and management.
The newest technologies seem like they”might have a fantastic societal impact and net social good. However it is the operators of those technologies that raise few flags,” said Camille Fischer, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for privacy protections.
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