BC Wildfire Service staff were forced to temporarily halt air operations yesterday on a wildfire burning 19 kilometres east of Nakusp due to unmanned drones getting in the way.
Apparently a helicopter that was supporting ground crews was itself grounded due to drone activity.
As well, additional firefighting aircraft working on other fires in the area had to be diverted from their flight paths to avoid the airspace around the Wilson Creek fire.
” The RCMP is working with the BC Wildfire Service to investigate this incident,” said a statement issued by the Southeast Fire Centre, adding that normal firefighting operations had resumed.
It reminded the public that the use of drones near a wildfire is illegal. The restricted airspace includes a radius of five nautical miles around the fire, and to an altitude of 3,000 feet above ground level.
According to the statement: “The presence of drones near an active wildfire can slow down, or completely shut down, aerial firefighting efforts, due to safety concerns. If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft, the consequences could be deadly.”
Under federal regulations, anyone caught operating a drone within an active wildfire could be fined $25,000, or jailed for up to 18 months.
(BC Wildfire Service photo)