Pee Dee firefighters use thermal drone to fight fire from above

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:39 PM EDT
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FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Firefighters got some help from above as they fought a fire at Darlington Shredding recycling plant last Friday.

Darlington Shredding went up in smoke last Friday around 8 a.m.

Darlington County Unified Fire District called in 17 surrounding agencies to help extinguish the flames.

“We got on the scene and found out it was a very large fire that had progressed very quickly, our main goal was to contain the fire and eventually extinguish it,” Deputy Fire Chief John Shoemake said.

West Florence Fire and Rescue was one of the responding agencies.

The department was able to use its new aerial drone for the first time.

West Florence Assistant Fire Chief Dustin Fails said the drone uses thermal imaging to see hot spots so they can identify where the fire is spreading.

“It allows the incident commanders to make those tactical decisions to be able to put those resources where there resources can be best used versus just spraying a bunch of water when it may not be doing any good”

Fails said the drone saved firefighters nearly eight hours on the scene.

He said without the drone they likely would’ve been fighting the fire well into the weekend.

“This is really the first major incident we’ve flown on, we basically flew all day with them and they were able to use the footage and the live stream to be able to look and say we need to change these or be over here,” Fails said.

Chief Shoemake said a fire of this size takes a huge effort to extinguish.

Shoemake is thankful to have had wonderful resources and manpower nearby....

“I just want to say I truly appreciate all the help we got not only from West Florence Fire Department but all of the departments in the area and our state mobilization to assist our guys and our crews with some relief,” Shoemake said.

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