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Wash. Natural Resources to use drone to monitor wildfires that pose 'urgent threat'

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OLYMPIA, Washington — Washington state says the Federal Aviation Administration has given it authorization to use an unmanned drone to monitor wildfires that pose an urgent threat.

Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark said Tuesday that the additional "real-time information" will make things safer for firefighters.

The state Legislature earlier this year gave the state Department of Natural Resources authority to use such drones for wildland fire monitoring and suppression.

Department spokeswoman Janet Pearce says any decision on whether to use a drone will depend on emergency conditions around a particular wildfire. She says if such use is warranted, her agency will use a 4-foot-long "ScanEagle," which is built by Boeing subsidiary Insitu. The device has a 10-foot wingspan and carries cameras.

Hot, dry weather has increased wildfire danger across Washington.

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