A drone was spotted flying close to the Arbutus Ridge fire at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Drone threatens aerial firefighting at Arbutus Ridge fire

Fines for illegal use of drones range between $3,000 and $25,000

An illegally-operated drone has threatened aerial firefighting over the Arbutus Ridge fire in the Alberni Inlet.

A drone was spotted at 5:30 a.m. flying over the Alberni Inlet near Harbour Quay, across the water and close to the fire.

“It’s very serious,” Coastal Fire Centre fire information officer Donna MacPherson said. “There is an automatic airspace restriction over any wildfire in Canada.”

READ: Fire breaks out on Arbutus Ridge, above the Alberni Canal

That airspace restriction is 3,000 feet above land and five nautical miles (9.26 kilometres) from the point of origin of the fire. The other side of the Alberni Inlet is only one nautical mile (1.8 kilometres) across from the Arbutus Ridge fire.

“That (restriction) happens automatically, we don’t have to do anything,” MacPherson said.

Drone intrusions are dealt with by the federal government. Operators violating Transport Canada’s rules for operating drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) can face fines between $3,000 and $25,000.

“We have an expectation we will be using aircraft on that fire and they’re (drone operators) putting that in jeopardy,” she said. “They’re interfering with our ability to do what we need to do on that fire.

“We can’t put our pilots at risk like this,” MacPherson said.

If anyone witnesses a person operating a drone within a wildfire airspace inclusion zone, they are asked to call the RCMP immediately.

“They’re putting lives at risk,” MacPherson said.

The Arbutus Ridge fire was spotted at midnight Aug. 9 and is now approximately 2.1 hectares. A three-person initial attack crew has been working the fire since early morning, as well as a crew from Port Alberni Fire Department, at the request of B.C. Wildfire Service.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Mother passes SD70 trustee torch to daughter in Port Alberni

Jane Jones loses after one term, but proud of her daughter Connie Watts

ELECTION 2018: Sharie Minions named Port Alberni mayor

Haggard, Solda, Washington, Poon, Paulson and Corbeil named councillors

Four incumbents re-elected to School District 70 in Port Alberni

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board will have a new look

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. oncologist changing the face of breast cancer treatment

Dr. Juanita Crook, a Kelowna oncologist, has seen 100 per cent success using brachytherapy to treat breast cancer in some patients.

Explosion at homeless camp causes brush fire on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews haul hundreds of metres of hose down ravine

Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

Two-part ballots now being mailed to all registered voters

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

Most Read