Into the inferno: Pilot talks about his missions over the ITC fire to help firefighers

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- First responders from across the Houston area helped put out the massive Deer Park tank fires.

Lt. Don Plant's mission was to get an up-close, birds-eye of view of the massive tank fires.

"It's a dimension that you can't see from the ground," said Lt. Plant, chief pilot of the Harris County Sheriff's Office Air Support Unit.

He flew the Harris County Sheriff's Office helicopters over the fire, conducting eight missions.

Plant helped provide insight into what you can and cannot see.

"Our two main missions were to identify the heat signatures using our thermal camera; to help the firefighters determine what areas they need to target to get the fire put out; and then also continual assessments on the fire whether it's spreading, whether we're actually making a difference in the fire," said Plant.

Plus, through the helicopter, they were able to send back live video as they were in the air, which also provided insight.

With each mission, Plant had to take precautions with air quality and smoke. They also had to make sure they weren't flying in the smoke.

HCSO is getting a new state-of-the-art helicopter in June. It will allow them to do search and rescues.

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