KGUN 9 On Your SideNews


Wildfire contained in Williams despite drone incursion

Posted at 1:13 PM, Jun 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-18 16:13:53-04

Firefighters contained a small wildfire in Williams Thursday, despite a drone causing a water-dropping helicopter to be delayed. 

The Williams Fire was less than a quarter mile away from residents in the area of Cemetery Hill.

According to the Kaibab National Forest, fire officials arrived on the scene and immediately requested helicopter support to drop water on the flames.

As the helicopter prepared to launch, incident commander Mike Uebel reported a drone flying over the fire area.

The helicopter was advised to stand down until the Coconino Country Sheriff's Office could find the drone operator and get it clear from the area.

Once the drone departed, firefighters contained the flames at less than an acre in size.

People may be flying a drone thinking it’s cool to get video footage of a wildfire, but they don’t realize the impacts they have on our ability to do our jobs, Uebel said. Sometimes your actions that seem harmless can have major impacts to the safety of firefighters and to the safety of our community. If we can’t respond, we can’t put out the fire.

The Kaibab National Forest says that unauthorized drone flights could cause serious injuries or death to firefighters in the air, or on the ground. 

We don’t want recreational drone use to impede the response of aerial resources. On another day when conditions weren’t as favorable for us, we could have had a different outcome, said Jeremy Human, fire management officer for the Williams and Tusayan ranger districts.