Coconino Forest Officials: Drone Interrupted Firefighting Efforts

By Bridget Dowd
Published: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 5:05am

Coconino National Forest officials say a drone interrupted firefighting efforts in northern Arizona. Spokesman Brady Smith says the drone kept a helicopter from mapping the spread of a grass fire for a short time Friday.

“We tried to dispatch some of our law enforcement and fire guys that were in there area to try and figure out who the owner of that drone was. Because anytime a drone is in the area it impedes any aircraft from coming in that area, so that they can be kept safe," Smith said. 

Smith says they were unable to find the owner, but this isn’t the first time someone has tried to get video footage of a fire with a drone.

Smith says luckily the drone’s interference didn’t cause the fire to get any larger.

Smith says people need to know that flying drones over wildfires or prescribed burns puts rescue workers at risk. The fire started Friday, and Smith says it grew to about 228 acres before it was fully contained Saturday.

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