Drones Disrupt Firefighting Efforts in Washington

state are at their wits' end. Drones, flown by curious onlookers, are hovering over wildfires, making their challenging job even more difficult.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expressed its frustration with the public through a series of tweets.

“It's not cute!” the department emphasized, highlighting incidents occurring “multiple times this year.”

Thomas Kyle-Milward, the DNR's communications manager for wildfires, shared, “It's always a good time to remind people not to practice dangerous behavior when fire suppression is going on.”

The department's tweets weren't triggered by a single event, but rather an “accumulation of reports and complaints from fire personnel.”

So why is this such a concern? Civilian drones seeking to capture footage of the fiery chaos disrupt the established firefighting protocol.

Typically, air traffic during firefighting operations is directed by “air attack platforms” to ensure the safety of firefighting aircraft.

Drones, often too tiny to be detected by these platforms, pose a serious hazard.

“It's a massive problem,” Kyle-Milward stated emphatically, noting its increasing frequency.

He reportedly explained that these drones can force aircrews to ground their aircraft, preventing them from effectively battling the fires and potentially leading to more extensive damage and danger.

This isn't a problem unique to Washington. Last August, British Columbia firefighters faced the same drone dilemma. They had to abandon an aerial assault on a significant due to drone activity in the vicinity.


The British Columbia Wildfire Service took to Twitter, warning, “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.”

While the allure of capturing dramatic wildfire footage might be tempting for drone enthusiasts, the risks are far too high. It's crucial to prioritize safety over spectacle, giving our firefighters the space and security they need to do their job effectively.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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