'If you fly we can't,' message from BLM to drone users

Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-01 20:25:38-04

A reminder to never, ever fly a drone near a wildfire. This morning a drone was flying over the Grassy Ridge Fire in Eastern Idaho and nearly collided with a helicopter. 

While drones are much smaller in size than helicopters and water tankers, they can cause massive damage if they hit a windshield or are sucked into an air intake.

Luckily the pilot flying over the Grassy Ridge Fire today was able to steer clear of the drone before any collision occurred, but the BLM is warning people to keep their drones out of fire areas. 

There are several ways drones cause crashes, by interfering with the plane's engine or striking the front and diminishing visibility. 

The BLM says they can lose hours of valuable response time if a drone is in the area.

"When we see a drone we have to shut down all the air traffic that's working on that fire so that means air tankers, helicopters, any aircraft that's flying and trying to put that fire out has to be landed, and that means that fire is going to grow in size," Spokesperson for NIFC Jessica Gardetto said. 

The federal government has their own drones that fly in the area, but they're all coordinated with the fire management teams to make sure no crashes happen. 

The BLM says fire season is just being and is only going to get bigger, so either keep your drone use in a different area or keep them on the ground.