Eyes In The Sky Help Firefighters Stay On Top Of Wildfires - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Eyes In The Sky Help Oklahoma Firefighters Stay On Top Of Wildfires

Posted: Updated:
Oklahoma Forestry Services deploys detection aircrafts to help find fires from the sky. Oklahoma Forestry Services deploys detection aircrafts to help find fires from the sky.
Once a fire is spotted from the sky pilots dispatch forest rangers. Once a fire is spotted from the sky pilots dispatch forest rangers.
Don Oltman, Del Aviation owner. Don Oltman, Del Aviation owner.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Wildfires have burned through about a thousand acres in just the past few days. But that number would likely be much higher if it weren't for a few eyes in the sky.

It's the scene we've been seeing across the state, fast moving flames and an army of firefighters not far behind.

But what we haven't seen has been in the sky.

Del Aviation owner, Don Oltman, supplies the state with a team of pilots, trained to detect fires.

"We just fly around and look for fires," Oltman said.

The spotters aren't necessarily looking for flames; they're looking for smoke that, in some cases, is buried so deep in the tall timbers of eastern Oklahoma, that it can't be seen from ground level.

Once spotted, the pilots dispatch forest rangers, on the ground ready to fight the fire.

"There are times when we literally have to lead the rangers within just a few hundred feet of it and they still can't see it," said Oltman.

If they can't see it, that means there's still time to get in front of the fire and early detection is key.

Mark Goeller, Oklahoma Forestry Services Assistant Director, said, "We get to the fire while they're still small and get a line around it and get those suppressed before they really reach a status where they're problematic."

Oklahoma Forestry Services has been deploying detection aircraft for more than 30 years. They cover more than 6 million acres, stretching from the foothills of the Ozarks, to the dense forests of southeast Oklahoma. That's known as the fire protection area, it was designated in the 1920s as Oklahoma's Commercial Forest Land.

"That's our timber producer part of the state, where we have saw mills and paper mills," Goeller said. "And those areas depend on a timber supply for operation.

And while saving land is a large part of the process, the priority many times shifts to saving homes.

"We enjoy doing it because we enjoy protecting forests, we enjoy protecting timber from burning up and we certainly don't want to see anybody's home burn up," Oltman said.

The Forestry Service helps out other parts of the State when needed.

Special Features

Community Calendar

Find out what's going on around town and submit events!


See it! Shoot it! Send it! Share your weather pics and videos with NewsOn6.com!

iPhone App

Get breaking news, weather, sports & video directly on your iPhone.

Mobile Alerts

Get breaking news, headlines, weather alerts & more on your cell phone.

TV Schedule

Need to know what's on TV? Check out our television schedule.

Live Radar

WARN Interactive

Special Coverage

  • Bridge Tracker

    How safe are Oklahoma's bridges? Use Bridge Tracker to find out now.

  • Cold Case

    Join Lori and local homicide detectives as they search for Cold Case clues.

  • Fallen Heroes

    News On 6 honors our fallen Oklahoma heroes. View our interactive timeline.

  • Murrah Bombing Timeline

    Learn more about the events leading up to and following the bombing.

  • Storm Zone

    Watch tornadoes tear across Oklahoma and learn how to stay safe!

  • Turnpike Timelines

    View a historical road map of Oklahoma's turnpike system.

Powered by WorldNow
News On 6
303 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103
Oklahoma's Own Newson6.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state including Tulsa's Own and Green Country's Own.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014, WorldNow and KOTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.