INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - As fire crews fought that massive Belmont warehouse fire from the ground, the IMPD Aviation Section took to the skies to give firefighters a different vantage point.
24-Hour News 8 got rare access to IMPD's police helicopter, to show an inside look at what was happening from the air that day.
"We're able to get a bird's eye view," explained IMPD Aviation Section tactical flight officer Alan Nelson. "We're able to transmit that down to ground command, to give them a better aerial view of what's going on, so they have a full picture."
IMPD Aviation Section pilot Scott Bishop and Nelson were called to respond in IMPD's helicopter, to the Belmont fire Saturday afternoon.
They use a thermal imaging camera to see through the smoke of the fire, and relay to ground crews where heat sources are.
"We can see through the smoke and see if there are any hazards there, that the people on the ground might not be able to see with the naked eye," explained Nelson.
You'll remember, firefighters were concerned at first about a giant propane tank in the warehouse.
The aviation team monitored the tank from the air, as firefighters worked to contain it. They say they also helped determine an evacuation area and traffic routes.
"Help with the ground units, diverting traffic away from the scene," added Nelson.
The team says they've been back in the air more, recently. They say the department had to cut back due to budget strains.
"The Super Bowl kind of signified our start again," explained Bishop. Bishop says they've started patrol flights again, targeting the most crime-ridden areas of Marion County.
The were watching from the air as crowds descended on Georgia Street for the Super Bowl, and they also were in the air after the Richmond Hill explosion occurred last year.
The team helps with urban search and rescue, searches for suspects, and project lifesaver.
"We're able to find Project Lifesaver in a matter of minutes, rather than hours," said Nelson.
He says they're able to assist officers on the ground using their tools from above.
For more information on the Aviation Section , click here.
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