The air attack coordinator flying on the Coldwater Fire Saturday spotted a drone within the Temporary Flight Restriction area and grounded the helicopter assigned to the fire until it was safe to resume any needed flying operations.
There is a TFR over the fire area, and it is illegal to operate a private drone near any wildfire. Saturday, the air attack, fixed-wing pilot, reported a private drone within the TFR. Drones near wildfires create a serious safety hazard for fire aircraft and result in aircraft being grounded immediately.
Fire crews today are conducting burning operation along Forest Road 141 on the southeast boundary. In the same area Saturday the incident commander ordered a qualified Unmanned Aircraft System or “drone” assigned to the fire to fly several operations. The drone was used to drop small detonation devices for ignitions during burnout operations in places hard to ignite by hand and it also flew reconnaissance missions.
Burn out ignitions begin along state Route 87 on Monday, which will likely result in increased smoke and reduced visibility on the highway. There is likely to be temporary lane closures and the use of pilot cars to escort traffic. These traffic patterns changes may cause long delays in both directions.
The Coldwater Fire is located about 4 miles south of Clints Well, within 1 mile east of state Route 87. It has burned approximately 5,800 acres inside of the 17,400 acre planned area where the fire is running its natural course.
The fire may not burn all the fuels in the planned area and is being suppressed in areas near homes, structures, cultural sites, power transmission lines, trailheads, campgrounds and other values at risk.
Remember, when it comes to drones and wildfires… “If you fly, We can’t!”