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195th Wing Airmen cut through the smoke

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Airmen from the 234th Intelligence Squadron, view live footage of wild fires from MQ-9 and RC-26 aircraft Aug 20, 2020, at Beale Air Force Base, California. The highly skilled airmen scrutinize the footage to perform damage assessment and predictive analysis in the Processing, Assessment and Dissemination (PAD) cell. The detailed reports are used by multiple agencies battling California's wildfires. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David J. Loeffler)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

As wildfires tear through Northern California threatening lives, homes and infrastructure, airmen from the California Air National Guard's 195th Wing use real time, high tech imagery provided by MQ-9 and RC-26 aircraft to cut through the heavy smoke. The airmen use their skills, often learned in battle, to help provide damage assessment and predictive analysis to assist those fighting the fires currently raging throughout the state. 

"I am immensely proud of the men and women of the 234th Intelligence Squadron and the tireless efforts they put forth to answer California's call when disaster strikes." said Lt. Col. Robert Childs, 234th Intelligence squadron commander. 

The 234th IS is one of  seven squadrons belonging to the 195th Wing. With the wing's geographical advantage of being spread throughout the State they truly are "California's Guard."

"Their skill and hard work during this crisis is augmenting the first responders with the critical knowledge necessary to get ahead of these fires and save the lives and property of our fellow citizens.  They are heroes helping heroes." said Childs.

Through meticulous comparison of their live feed to maps, satellite imagery and Google Earth the airmen are able to report damage up the chain providing an almost instantaneous report to those in need of the critical information. Once the information is compiled the airmen, through many years of combat and civil support experience, are able to provide predictive analysis giving those battling the fires insight to prepare contingency plans and to minimize damage.

"Through Predictive Analysis we can take into consideration the weather, wind patterns and terrain to determine how quickly a fire may encroach upon a nearby city," said Tech Sgt. Matthew Rubio,  PAD (Processing, Assessment and Dissemination) cell team lead. "This information we provide allows the incident commanders to make decisions that can save life and property."