Drones spotted near Pioneer Fire

Posted at 12:06 PM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-28 23:40:38-04

From the ground and the air, crews continue to battle the Pioneer Fire burning north of Idaho City. Firefighters say they're not just fighting hot temperatures and high winds, but unmanned aircraft also known as drones.

"If you’re in that area with a drone then you're obstructing these people from doing their job," Said Chief Deputy Dale Rogers of the Boise County Sheriffs' office.

Authorities with the US Forest Service tell us they've had not one, but two separate close encounters with drones while battling the Pioneer Fire. The 1st on the 22nd of July was spotted within the fire perimeter. The second, just 4 days later was seen at the heliport area. While photographers may be using the drones to get a good shot, fire fighters say they can cause serious damage to aircraft and put lives at risk.

"A drone is not that large but impacting an aircraft that's not aware of the drone could be a major incident and result in a crash." explained Mike Dudley the Pioneer Fire Air operations director.

With the chance of a collision happening all because of a drone, authorities say they may even suspend their firefighting efforts from the air. No water drops. No flame retardant. All because someone wanted to get a closer look. Officials say they didn't pull their support when the 2 drones were spotted at the pioneer fire. But they are urging the public to fly somewhere else.

"Please, this is an on-going issue," Said Dudley. "If it's an active initial attack please don't do it. Resources are inbound; you have no idea when they are going to arrive. "

If a drone flyer endangers an aircraft or injures people, authorities say they could face a fine of up to 25 thousand dollars.