Washington Firefighters Beg Hobbyists to Keep Drones Away from Wildfires

Drones were spotted over the Deep North Fire and the Cox Valley Fire

CHAD SOKOL, Spokesman Review

The Deep North fire was about 30 percent contained as of Friday afternoon. Crews had stopped it from spreading downhill toward homes and other structures, but it still was crawling up densely wooded slopes.

Fire officials expect a dry cold front to pass through Saturday, potentially stoking the flames. They said the fire likely will burn 20 acres more to the northwest.

“The weather has really cooperated so far,” said Nick Cronquist of the Department of Natural Resources. “No structures have been lost, and for the most part I think we have them all secure.”

See also  Storms Clear Wildfire Smoke in US West

Fire updates Firefighters this week spotted an unwelcome object in the sky above the Deep North fire: a remote-controlled drone.

The camera-equipped hobby aircraft was apparently zipping through the smoke to capture images of the wildfire, which has burned nearly 600 acres of wooded terrain in northern Stevens County.

Drones aren’t only a nuisance, according to fire officials, they’re also a threat to public safety.

Last week, a drone was spotted hovering over the Cox Valley fire in Olympic National Park, effectively stalling airborne firefighting operations for half a day. Planes and helicopters couldn’t take to the skies with a drone in the way, leaving ground personnel without much-needed air support.

See also  Lightning Caused Wildfire that Killed Firefighters in China

Officials have begun using the slogan, “If you fly, we can’t.”

A scout plane spotted the drone at the Deep North fire on Wednesday. No other aircraft were flying at the time.

“It didn’t ground anything, but we definitely want to get the word out that it’s potentially very dangerous for our pilots and firefighters,” said Nick Cronquist, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

In both cases, crews tried unsuccessfully to find the drone operator. Drones are prohibited in national parks. Rules vary in Washington state parks.

While nonfirefighters should keep their drones away from active wildfires, some departments now are using drones to scout out complicated terrain.

See also  New Mexico Wildfire Burns Boy Scout Buildings

Copyright © 2016 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.  

 

Topics

Drones were spotted over the Deep North Fire and the Cox Valley Fire CHAD SOKOL, Spokesman Review The Deep North fire was about 30 percent contained as of Friday afternoon. Crews had stopped it from spreading downhill toward homes and other structures, but it still was crawling up densely wooded slopes. Fire officials expect a […]

Get The Wildland Firefighter Newsletter

Related Articles

Biden Signs Off on Hefty Pay Raise for Federal Firefighters

Biden Signs Off on Hefty Pay Raise for Federal Firefighters

By AAMER MADHANI Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has signed off on giving federal wildland firefighters a hefty raise for the next two fiscal years, a move that affects more than 16,000 firefighters and comes as much of the West braces for a...

How’re You Feeling These Days?

How’re You Feeling These Days?

When I first started firefighting as a seasonal with the Forest Service, my only stress had to do with my physical stamina to keep up with the crew and making sure my boots weren’t causing me any hot spots. Did I have enough water? Should I double lunch today? By the...

Warm, Dry, Breezy Weather to Challenge Fire Crews in AZ

Warm, Dry, Breezy Weather to Challenge Fire Crews in AZ

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Fire crews battling a pair of wildfires in northern Arizona were expecting some growth Thursday because of warm, dry and breezy conditions, officials said. Both blazes were moving through grass, brush and pine trees on the northern outskirts of...