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‘Extremely dangerous’: Civilian drone reported flying over northern B.C. wildfire

All airspace above and around wildfires is restricted to firefighting personnel, says BC Wildfire
The BC Wildfire Service is responding to a fire north of Terrace. (Contributed photo)

The BC Wildfire Service is reminding people that the airspace around wildfires is strictly restricted to firefighting personnel, after a drone was reported flying around one blaze near Terrace.

“This type of activity is extremely dangerous and poses a significant safety risk to personnel, especially when low-flying firefighting aircraft are present. All airspace around and above wildfires is restricted airspace,” said Casda Thomas, fire information officer for the Northwest Fire Centre in Smithers.

“The operation of any aircraft not associated with fire suppression activities (including drones and unmanned aerial vehicles) near a wildfire is illegal, including at night.”

The Terrace-area fire was first reported on Monday (Aug. 8), and is estimated at about 20 hectares as of Tuesday afternoon. It’s 40 kilometres north of Terrace, adjacent to Highway 113, but comes closer to the small community of Rosswood and Kitsumkalum Lake.

The fire is not immediately threatening structures but wildfire service personnel have installed water-based protection systems at two nearby properties in the event the fire moves closer. There have been reports of ash falling to the south.

The wildfire service had nine people at the fire on Monday supplemented with airtankers and one helicopter, and sent another 18 on Tuesday.

“Firefighters are establishing hose lay in areas are that are accessible. They are receiving bucketing support from two helicopters who are bucketing on priority areas to allow access by ground crews,” said Thomas.

“An airtanker skimmer group is en route to assist today (Tuesday) as well and will be working out of Kitsumkalum Lake. Yesterday (Monday) the fire was actioned with nine personnel, airtankers and one helicopter.”

Thomas said the fire is displaying open flame, but hasn’t been spreading very far.

So far, the wildfire service suspects it to be human-caused.

It thanked those who first reported the blaze.

Wildfires can be reported by 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cell phone. Fires can also be reported through a BC Wildfire Service downloadable app.

About the Author: Rod Link

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