Drone hampers efforts of B.C. Wildfire Service fighting large wildfire near Lytton | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Drone hampers efforts of B.C. Wildfire Service fighting large wildfire near Lytton

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June 19, 2021 - 2:28 PM

A drone is hampering the efforts of B.C. Wildfire Service crews currently fighting a 250-hectare blaze south of Lytton.

The George Road wildfire, located roughly seven kilometres south of Lytton, has been burning since June 16 and is still classified as out of control by the wildfire service. B.C. Wildfire information officer Madison Smith said there are 73 firefighters on site today, with two pieces of heavy equipment and nine helicopters dropping water buckets on the fire.

However, a recent Tweet from the service said a drone has been seen in the vicinity of the wildfire and operations on the south side of the fire have been halted as a result.

 

"This activity is extremely dangerous and poses a significant safety risk to personnel," according to the service.

Over the years, drones flying in the area of wildfires have restricted the efforts of the service to fight fires. In 2015, a drone spotted at the Testalinden Creek fire near Oliver prompted an immediate grounding of eight helicopters and five planes, and as a result, the fire jumped containment lines.

READ MORE: Canada to impose stricter rules for drone operation next year

Both Transport Canada and the B.C. Wildfire Service prohibit the use of drones near a wildfire. All wildfires are considered to be “flight restricted” within a radius of five nautical miles around the fire, to an altitude of 3,000 above ground level.

According to the wildfire service, they pose a significant hazard to the aircrews and the firefighters on the ground.

In spring of 2016, B.C.’s Wildfire Act was amended, and anyone found interfering with wildfire control efforts (including flying drones or UAVs) can face penalties up to $100,000 and/or up-to one year in jail, according to the province.

READ MORE: Keep your drones away from wildlife, Okanagan Conservation Officers warn

An evacuation alert remains in effect for 10 Thompson-Nicola Regional District properties and for Kitzowit 20 Indian Reserve properties of the Lytton First Nation due to the wildfire.


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