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Washington firefighting crews are sick of people flying drones above wildfires and throwing off their operations

Washington firefighting crews are sick of people flying drones above wildfires and throwing off their operations
  • Washington firefighter crews are sick of people flying their drones above wildfires.

  • The Department of Natural Resources posted several sassy tweets warning people against the activity.

  • A department communications manager told Insider it's a massive and increasingly frequent problem.

Washington state firefighting crews are fed up with people flying their drones above wildfires, and a department official says the problem is massive and only getting more frequent.

On Tuesday, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources posted a series of rather sassy tweets warning amateur drone operators from getting too close to wildfires.

The department said incidents have happened "multiple times this year" and have prevented aircrews from properly attending to wildfires. "It's not cute!" it added.

 

Thomas Kyle-Milward, the Washington state department of natural resources communications manager for wildfires, told Insider the tweets came from an "accumulation of reports and complaints from fire personnel" rather than one specific event.

"It's always a good time to remind people not to practice dangerous behavior when fire suppression is going on," Kyle-Milward said.

People flying civilian drones to get footage of wildfires throws off the firefighting protocol. Air traffic is usually directed by "air attack platforms," which play an important role in ensuring aircraft can safely perform their jobs when fighting fires.

But drones throw off air traffic and can be too small for platforms to spot, forcing aircrews to ground their aircraft to prevent potential accidents, Kyle-Milward told Insider.

The situation is "a massive problem," he said. "And it's becoming more frequent."

British Columbia firefighters faced a similar problem last August when they had to call off an aerial attack on the province's biggest wildfire due to people flying drones nearby.

"It poses a significant safety risk to BC wildfire personnel, especially when low-flying firefighting aircraft are present," British Columbia Wildfire Service tweeted at the time. "If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft, the consequences could be deadly. There is zero tolerance for people who fly drones in active wildfire areas."

Read the original article on Insider