Part of Mount Helena was destroyed by fire on Sunday. The wildfire was suppressed as a result of the efforts of several agencies. However, owing to the deployment of civilian, rogue drones, air assaults were temporarily suspended.
“So, we're just really strongly trying to encourage the public to not fly their drones anywhere near any kind of fire space that's going on. And as a matter of fact, there was a lot of people on the trail system yesterday, as well. So, you know, whether they're flying a drone or walking around they're still in the fire area and we just asking people to try and stay away on the next one. I understand everyone wants to take a peek and look at it, but keep out of the fire area if at all possible,” says Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) Forestry Division Program Manager, John Huston.
The Firefighters were delayed by roughly 12 minutes due to a rogue drone piloted by a citizen. However, Huston said it seemed much longer. Any extra time spent battling a Wildfire might have a significant impact. The drone was initially discovered by a crew member, who then informed the aviation support.
“The crew member actually kind of chased the drone down the hill and was able to find some kids that helped him out, that got him to the person that was actually operating the drone. We quickly called the PD and they responded within a few minutes, and we were able to catch up with the gentleman,” says Huston.
Rogue drones disrupt firefighting efforts
The lives of all other pilots are at danger if attempts are made to continue fire suppression operations while an unidentified, rogue drone is in the air.
“So, any aircraft like a drone, no communication with anyone, we don't know what it's doing, where it's going, we just can't have it. We have any kind of air-to-air impact, you know, that's potential bad things for those pilots, those planes, those helicopters,” says Huston.
“As a firefighting agency, we do want to send a message that this is not a good thing. So, we do want to levy a fine of some sort, yes,” says Huston.
The whole Mount Helena City Park in Montana is currently off limits to the public because of the fire, which damaged around 18 acres of land. The fire's origin is still being looked into.
“There's always that chance, so we ask people just to be vigilant. We don't expect it to come back to life. It's looking really good, expecting things to wind down. But always, you know, back of your head, keep an eye up there,” says Huston, according to KTVH.
Let us know what you think about rogue drones getting in the way of firefighting efforts in the comments below.
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