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Cinematographer Helps with Fire Prevention

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 9:00 am

Many people wondered about the numerous helicopters flying around the mountain communities during August. Word of mouth spread that Edison has been using helicopters to check power lines and poles for any possible damage or future cause of failure, but Edison representatives were unreachable to comment on the matter. One local said he has taken part in these aerial inspections.

David Arnold is an aerial videographer who films from helicopters. He’s worked on shows such as Deadliest Catch and Survivor, but has also covered things like the Superbowl. Some may recognize his name since he has authored two books, “Help From Above” and “What Lies Above the Clouds: A True Crime Story” and held numerous book signings in and around the Lake Arrowhead Village this summer.

Throughout August, Arnold said he flew with Edison helicopters to help them capture footage of power lines and poles which may lead to failure and possibly cause a fire.

“I can’t speak for Edison or the companies that are doing the fire prevention, but I can tell you about my experience of it,” Arnold said.

Arnold said he received numerous calls from people working on this project and requested his help capturing power line footage from a helicopter.

“It’s a problem that needed to be solved, the best and fastest way examining thousands and thousands of power poles is using a helicopter,” Arnold said. “With a helicopter, we can cover hundreds of miles very rapidly.”

Arnold said there are hundreds of miles of transmission lines, power poles, and structures which are being examined, inch-by-inch, looking for any faults. He said some of these lines are very difficult to reach by foot in the mountain wilderness. Arnold said these helicopters have been outfitted with cameras that film in 8k resolution.

“We’re using the same technology [as shows like Deadliest Catch] and some really smart people found a way to adapt it so the power company can examine all their structures and power lines and hopefully find the kind of problems that caused California’s deadliest fire ever last year, [the 2018 Camp Fire].”

After filming, Arnold said the footage is sent back to analysts, who can then view every inch of their power grid and find potential faults. They can flag that particular area for repairs and send out a crew to fix it. The cameras are also programmed so when Arnold captures a particular section of power line or a pole, that footage is tagged with the location of that power line or pole so analysts know where to send the repair crews.

Arnold said this fire prevention could potentially take years to complete without the use of helicopters, even in neighborhoods where the power lines can easily be accessed.

“It’s a big operation. They have so many crews to do this kind of work... It’s a really big effort. I have a feeling they’re checking everything, which is a titanic amount of work to look at their entire system inch by inch,” Arnold said.

So next time there is a helicopter hovering over a home or business, it might be filming power lines to ensure they are not the cause of another devastating fire. It might even be Arnold filming!

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