Civilian drone use halts air attack on wildfire in southern Utah

Posted at 8:35 PM, Jun 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-19 22:35:08-04

PINE VALLEY, Utah — The Saddle Fire is burning on about 318 acres in southern Utah and is 0 percent contained Sunday, and authorities say air resources were halted twice due to civilian drone use.

According to a press release from fire officials, the blaze is burning in steep terrain inaccessible to ground crews, so air resources are the only option at present. However, there have been two incidents where members of the public using drones in the area halted aircraft operations.

Fire officials state there is a five-mile temporary flight restriction over the Saddle Fire, which means it is illegal to operate a drone in the area. The press release also states: “Everyone is reminded to NEVER fly drones over a wildfire.”

Hand crews are working to improve the fuel breaks in the area and are also prepping roads and trails. Air tankers have dropped nearly 17,000 gallons of retardant on the blaze so far.