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

Alberni Valley firefighters head to Fort St. James to assist with B.C. wildfires

‘We need to make sure first and foremost our community is protected’: Gilday

City of Port Alberni agrees to three-year extension of track surface

Bob Dailey Stadium track has experienced ‘degradation and tears’ since resurfacing in 2013

Could Thunder in the Valley roar at Alberni’s airport once more?

City of Port Alberni offered Stamp Avenue as a temporary solution

John Douglas looks forward to a “healthier” Port Alberni

Douglas has resigned from his position at the Port Alberni Shelter Society to run for mayor

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

UPDATED: Vancouver Island community under evacuation alert due to wildfire

BC Wildfire Service says steep terrain near Zeballos poses challenge as “out of control” wildfire approaches homes

Most Read