Washington DNR to Boaters and Drone Operators: Stop interfering!
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is pleading for people to stop interfering with firefighting operations.
Drones have been spotted in areas where crews are trying to stop the spread of wildfires. DNR says flying drones near wildfires pose a risk to pilots flying aircraft, especially in smoke filled areas.
Because firefighting aircraft and drones fly at similar altitudes, it creates the potential for a mid-air collision or pilot distraction that could result in a serious or fatal accident.
If aircraft is grounded due to drone sightings, wildfires will grow larger. In June, air crews had to call off the Iron Creek Fire in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest due to a drone in the area.
DNR officials stress "firefighting operations are more important than those 12 likes you'll get on Instagram."
Boaters have also been a problem for DNR crews.
They say watercraft have been seen racing aircraft that are scooping water from lakes. In one case, a jet ski drove in front of a scooper.
The Federal Aviation Administration has released a digital toolkit on what needs to be known regarding the use of drones and wildfires. Click here to read.