Fire officials asking public to stop flying drones and planes near fires

Fire officials asking public to stop flying drones and planes near fires

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A hobby for many people is making it difficult for our area firefighters to do their jobs.

If you fly, they can't.

That's the saying firefighting officials are using, to remind the public about steering clear of their area during a fire. Certain toys and tools are putting first responders in harms way.

It's a problem firefighters in the past didn't encounter. But drones are actually posing a threat to these first responders doing their jobs.

Now, Texas A and M Forest Service officials are asking residents to keep their drones away, while they're battling blazes. This adds more danger to lives and property.

"It creates a hazard for our aircraft that we have flying around to do aerial suppression," says Regional Fire Coordinator Troy Ducheneaux. "Because those drones are so small, they make it very difficult for the pilots in our seats, our air tankers to see them until they're just almost right upon them."

These drones can cause serious or even fatal collisions, especially considering low visibility with smoke.

But it's not just drones officials are seeing a problem with. Here in the panhandle, other private aircraft have created safety hazards.

"It has suspended our aircraft operations here in the panhandle last year during the crutch ranch fire," says Ducheneaux. "We actually had to pull our aircraft off and ground them because we had other aircraft that were operating without authorization on that incident."

Long story short, do not use a drone or plane near any fires going on. And though a fun hobby, doing it can land you in some trouble.

"Then it prevents us from having to file through the FAA, those temporary flight restrictions that take place and then keeping people out of those restricted areas, but also from being in trouble with the law and getting potential fines put upon them for intrusions into those flight restrictions.

Ducheneaux says if you want to fly, do it after flames have been put out, and crews are clear.

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