Firefighters and the use of drones
Location: 11 nautical miles south of Prescott-Bradshaw Ranger District (T12N, R2W, SEC 1), near Mt Union.
Start Date: April 18, 2022
Size: Approximately 9393 acres, 38% Containment
Cause: Under Investigation
Vegetation: Timber (Litter and Understory), Chaparral (6 feet)
Number of Personnel Assigned: 889
Despite the winds and dry conditions there has been little fire progression along the perimeter, there are still areas of concern where firefighters are still actively fighting. Currently the priority remains on preventing the fire moving north on the northwest perimeter and protecting structures near Mount Tritle. With the assistance of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) otherwise known as drones, firefighters have made significant progress in locating and extinguishing hot spots in and around the perimeter.
Like firefighters, drones are actively used for day and night operations. Trained professionals, utilize this essential tool for fighting wildfires. These drones give firefighters a bird’s eye view of the terrain and can assist with determining where the fire moves next, allowing swift decisions can be made about where crews should go. It is illegal for the public deploy or utilize a personal Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in a fire area to get a closer view of the fire. This can interfere with firefighting operations and place both pilots and firefighters lives in danger. During a wildfire incident a Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) around the fire and privately owned drones (UAS) can interfere with wildland fire air traffic, such as air tankers, helicopters, and other firefighting aircraft that are necessary to suppress wildland fires. Even the smallest drone (UAS) can cause a serious or fatal accident if it collides with firefighting aircraft and disrupts firefighting operations.
Per the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR 9212.1(f), it is illegal to resist or interfere with the efforts of firefighter(s) to extinguish a fire. Doing so can result in a significant fine and/or a mandatory court appearance. So, be smart and just don’t fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire. No amount of video or photos are worth the consequences.
WEATHER: On Saturday, high pressure will bring a continuation of very dry conditions, but light southwest winds.
SMOKE INFORMATION: Residents should be aware of increasing smoke conditions do to winds out of the south. Residents can monitor current conditions for the Crooks Fire, via Arizona Smoke Forecasting system located at https://azdeq.gov/wildfireforecast?fire=crooksfire
EVACUATIONS: Several areas remain in both the “READY” and ”SET” status. Residents should continue to monitor the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page for additional information.
FOREST CLOSURE: To provide public health and safety due to firefighting operations and fire danger associated with the uncontrolled Crooks Fire the Prescott National Forest has expanded the fire area emergency closure to the south. To view the Crooks Fire area closure order and map visit: Prescott National Forest – Alerts & Notices (usda.gov)
A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place: Wildfires are a NO Drone Zone. Flying recreational and media drones within a TFR is illegal and impedes fire suppression efforts. Report drones to local law enforcement. If You Fly, We Can’t!