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Drone interferes with firefighting at Arrow Lakes fires

Michaud Creek, Octopus Creek and other fires in the Arrow Lakes Complex have burned 27,000 hectares
The Octopus Creek fire seen from Edgewood. Photo: Jeannie Little

A drone hindered firefighting efforts in the Arrow Lake wildfire complex on Wednesday, July 28 after it entered the fire’s airspace.

The use of drones near a wildfire is illegal. All wildfires are automatically considered to be “flight restricted,” according to Canadian Aviation Regulations. The restricted airspace includes a radius of five nautical miles around the fire, and to an altitude of 3,000 feet above ground level.

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.

Anyone caught operating a drone that interferes with fire control could be fined up to $100,000, or jailed for up to one year, or both.

To report a drone or any aircraft illegally intruding into airspace over wildfires, please call the RCMP or report it through Crime Stoppers.

“Please assist us in keeping our aircraft flying and our pilots safe,” says BCWS.

The Arrow Lakes wildfire complex includes the Octopus Creek and Michaud Creek fires among others. The fires have burned more than 27,000 hectares.

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About the Author: Castlegar News Staff

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