Battling a wildfire is akin to precision high-speed landscaping. That’s why crews fighting massive fires – maybe also now in California – sometimes have dusted off a somewhat extraordinary piece of equipment: the helitorch. Yes: It’s a flame-spitting helicopter. It is used to fight wildfires by igniting new fires around… And what about when such a controlled fire gets out-of-control? Look at California…

There are more mundane ways to set controlled burns, like a fusee (basically a handheld flare), flare guns (great for lighting a hillside on fire), or a driptorch filled with a mixture of gasoline and diesel that literally pours fire out of a spigot.

But all of these solutions require men on the ground, near the fire. That can be tough in rugged terrain, and requires a ton of manpower to light large areas. That’s why we have the helitorch.

There are a couple different types of helitorch, but they all work largely the same way: combine aviation gasoline (which doesn’t evaporate as quickly as standard gas) and a gelling agent (CAL FIRE uses something called Flash 21), light it on fire, and shoot it out of a giant contraption hanging a few dozen feet below a helicopter.

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An heli torch or flame-throwing helicopter starting a controlled fire in California. Picture by CAL FIRE

The gelling agent thickens the fuel, keeping it burning longer and improving its effectiveness as a fire starter — much like napalm. The idea is to start a continuous line of fire over hundreds or thousands of feet, even in rugged and inaccessible terrain. It also ignites the treetops, which is difficult for ground-based operations.

And, like so many things related to wildfires, it looks freaking awesome.

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Wired – The Flame-Throwing Helicopter That Fights Wildfires

9 COMMENTS

    • Chico, CA where most of evacuees are camping out might be buried alive by the Ash-Slide! One more disaster is coming to those evacuees. They had better find a hotel somewhere before the Ash-Slide flash flood hit that bottom of valley area.

  1. How some of Reptilians mansions or castles are so nasty. It has never cleaned. Do you know many of historic figures (=all Reptilians) had never taken bath, never changed their clothes or never brushed their teeth? Many of Reptilians have hygiene problems. They hate to be too clean. They have originated or still have been living in cave system or their secret underground bases. You can imagine how much cleaning you can do in their cave system? Because of their subterranean feature, they want to live they way they live in their caves where it is not clean at all.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9fZwidDBpk

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