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Drones Interfere With Colorado Wildfire Fighting

Drones Interfere With Colorado Wildfire Fighting
(Colicaranica/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Friday, 15 June 2018 09:30 AM

Drones are interfering with Colorado wildfire fighting efforts and costing emergency officials' critical resources that they need to stop the spreading flames.

Air operations at the Bocco Fire had to be shut down recently because someone was flying a drone into restricted airspace, said Steve Hall of the Colorado Bureau of Land Management, according to The Denver Channel.

Hall said drones are putting pilots and the public at risk and recently caused firefighters to shutdown air operations at the Bocco Fire.

"Had to shut down operations because somebody had flown a drone into restricted air space," Hall said, according to The Denver Channel.

Thousands of residents in Colorado and Wyoming fled multiple wildfires spreading across the drought-stricken U.S. West on Wednesday.

The Bocco Fire burning near Wolcott, which has scorched about 415 acres, is now 50 percent contained, KDVR-TV noted.

As fire-fighting efforts continue, officials are urging the public to avoid flying drones over the area as they put pilots at risk.

"[It's] not a distraction anybody needs—whether they're on the ground or in the air," said Hall, according to The Denver Channel.

"If you have aviation equipment moving quickly and they hit a drone, that's going to cause significant damage and really be a safety issue for that pilot," Hall continued.

It is because of these very safety risks that fire crews ground planes, and this recently resulted in a full shutdown as crews searched for a drone flying near the Bocco Fire.

"It could be five, 10 fewer tanker drops, bucket drops and that can make a huge difference in a wildfire," said Hall.

This appears to be an ongoing issue that emergency officials have to face, with drones disrupting fire-fighting efforts on several occasions in recent months,

Last year there were two reports of drones halting activities to fight fires in Northern California, with one person reportedly being arrested, CNBC News said.

According to The Denver Channel, a person operating a drone in a restricted airspace during a wildfire could face thousands of dollars in fines and jail time.

"Over the years, we have seen this problem become a trend," said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. "The potential for a fire to grow larger and do more damage during the time we can't use firefighting aircraft while that drone is in that area exists. That's why it's critical that we educate and ensure that the public is not flying their drones over our aircraft or over fires."

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Drones are interfering with Colorado wildfire fighting efforts and costing emergency officials' critical resources that they need to stop the spreading flames.
drones, interfere, colorado, wildfire
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2018-30-15
Friday, 15 June 2018 09:30 AM
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