Civil Air Patrol aids in wildfire detection - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Civil Air Patrol aids in wildfire detection

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Officials and residents are hoping that a couple of small wildfires are not a sign of things to come this season.

This is Arizona Wildfire Awareness week, and as dry as it's been statewide, officials and residents are hoping that a couple of recent wildfires are not a sign of things to come this season.

A first line of defense often comes from the sky.  The Civil Air Patrol typically flies missions every day, and there is ample opportunity to keep an eye out for anything unusual.

"An extra set of eyes is a good way of describing it.  We're out there, we're looking, we typically have three people in the airplane as we fly along.  Therefore, we have an opportunity to see things that maybe somebody else hasn't seen," said Capt. John Schofield with the Civil Air Patrol.

Last year, the Civil Air Patrol reported about 30 wildfires while flying regular training missions.

If smoke is observed from the air, the procedure is to try and determine its source, and then communicate that information to authorities on the ground.

And with most missions being flown in the morning, there is a higher likelihood that the Civil Air Patrol may be the first to come across fires that may have been started by lightning the night before.

"We're not going out with the specific objective of looking for fires, but we are going out on a specific training sortie and we always advise the crews to keep an eye out and if you see something, these are the procedures we want you to follow," said Schofield.

For more information on Arizona Wildfire Awareness, CLICK HERE.

For more information on the Civil Air Patrol, CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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