As thousands of acres have burned in Medora, one group is capturing thermal imaging of the area to better inform the suppression strategy.

The North Dakota Wing of Civil Air Patrol is flying aircrafts over the flames to capture hot spots that aren’t visible from the ground, using unique infrared technology that few Air Patrol Units in the country have.

That information is then given to the state Department of Emergency Services, which can use it to determine the perimeter of the fire, helping crews in their decision-making.

Lt. Col. Sean Johnson is Civil Air Patrol’s Incident Commander for this fire. He says the last time the group utilized the infrared technology was back in 2015 when a wildfire threatened to burn down the University of Mary and surrounding homes.

“Regardless of the hazard, whether it’s a wildfire, flood, search and rescue — this tool helps inform decisionmaking, and how to dedicate some precious and limited resources and maximize the benefit they have in response,” said Johnson, the Chief of Staff for Missions.

Johnson also emphasized that all Civil Air Patrol members are volunteers, and the group is always looking for more help, whether you’re a pilot or not.