Unauthorized Drone Grounded Helicopter Support Over Coldwater Wildfire

By Holliday Moore
Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - 8:45am

coldwater fire
Coldwater Fire activity on June 8, 2019

Crews are making headway on the Coldwater Wildfire burning north of Payson.

As of Tuesday morning, the lightning-caused blaze had charred about 9,000 acres in the Coconino National Forest since it began May 30.

Jessica Richardson with the fire communications team reported the blaze 15 percent contained and still impacting travel along State Route 87.

At one point Saturday, a drone illegally flew into the restricted area, grounding a helicopter crew.

"Anytime we have an unauthorized, privately owned drone enter into the air, whenever we're operating, we have to put our aircraft down due to safety," Richardson said.

Not all drones are banned over the fire. Crews have relied on their own unmanned aircraft to track the wildfire's movement along its southeast boundary.

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