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'If You Fly, We Can't'; Terwilliger Fire Efforts Hampered By Drone


Air attacks on the Terwilliger Fire burning east and west of the Cougar Reservoir were suspended Sunday after an unmanned aircraft system, or “drone”, was detected over the fire, violating a temporary flight restriction.

The Willamette National Forest announced that helicopters were immediately grounded when the drone flew into the area, posing a risk to firefighters in the air and on the ground. Helicopters were being used for water drops on spot fires along the fire’s perimeter.

Credit mau.photo / Flickr.com
A quad-copter style Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), or drone.

The Forest Service has issued statements reminding the public that “if you fly, we can’t.” The fine for operating in the temporary flight restriction area is up to $27,500. Officials add were medical attention necessary, the drone would have kept medical choppers from transporting patients as well.

While small, drones can collide against an aircraft’s windshield, engines, or other vulnerable areas that can endanger lives both in the air and on the ground. Winds or mechanical failure can also send a drone hurtling to the ground, possibly threatening lives or property.  

In addition to flight restrictions, the Willamette National Forest has implemented a forest-wide campfire ban, which includes all campgrounds and wilderness areas.

As of Monday morning the Terwilliger fire had burned 5,398 acres and was 2 percent contained. It was reported on August 19th. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Copyright 2018, KLCC. 

Love Cross joined KLCC in 2017. She began her public radio career as a graduate student, serving as Morning Edition Host for Boise State Public Radio in the late 1990s. She earned her undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and Communication from University of California at Davis, and her Master’s Degree from Boise State University. In addition to her work in public radio, Love teaches college-level courses in Communication and Public Speaking.