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Drone activity forces grounding of helicopter at Kimbol Lake fire

The BC Wildfire Service said Saturday air operations on the Kimbol Lake wildfire near Nakusp were temporarily halted due to people operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or “drones”) above the fire.

BC Wildfire Service said in a media release Sunday that staff were forced to temporarily halt air operations on the Kimbol Lake wildfire near Nakusp on Saturday, July 10, 2021, due to people operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or “drones”) above the fire.

The BC Wildfire Service said this situation resulted in a helicopter being grounded on Saturday.

However, the airspace around the 10 hectare Kimbol Lake fire, located northeast of Nakusp, is once again clear for firefighting aircraft to operate Sunday the BC Wildfire Service said.

“The use of drones near a wildfire is illegal. All wildfires are automatically considered to be “flight restricted”, according to Canadian Aviation Regulations. The restricted airspace includes a radius of five nautical miles around the fire, and to an altitude of 3,000 feet above ground level.

BC Wildfire Service said the presence of drones near an active wildfire can slow down, or completely shut down, aerial firefighting efforts, due to safety concerns. If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft, the consequences could be deadly.

Anyone caught operating a drone that interferes with fire control could be fined up to $100,000, or jailed for up to one year, or both.

  • To report a wildfire, unattended campfire, or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
  • For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air-quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca.