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BC’s mayor says drones endanger helicopter pilots in wildfires and pleads for patience

FORT NELSON, BC – The mayor of British Columbia’s Northern Rockies Regional Municipality says drones are endangering helicopters used to fight wildfires near Fort Nelson, which was evacuated earlier this month.

FORT NELSON, BC – The mayor of British Columbia’s Northern Rockies Regional Municipality says drones are endangering helicopters used to fight wildfires near Fort Nelson, which was evacuated earlier this month.

In a video on Facebook, Rob Fraser says drones can be an excellent tool, but in the conditions where 20 helicopters are flying around, he says drones are “nothing but dangers.”

Fraser says helicopter pilots fighting wildfires are under an enormous amount of stress, and says they can’t watch drones, warning “they’re going to cause these guys to crash.”

Fraser says he’d take out a drone with a 12-gauge shotgun if he could, but that’s not allowed, so he says people caught using drones in wildfire evacuation areas will be “to the fullest extent possible.” to be continued.

He says people in the evacuation zone have also caused damage to structural protection hoses by driving over them, and have speeded through areas and overwhelmed firefighters.

Fraser says they have begun preliminary work to get Fort Nelson back up and running by focusing on “essentials,” pleading with evacuees to be patient as the firefight continues.

At nearby Doig River First Nation, an evacuation order has now been downgraded to a warning, and people are urged to stay prepared if another evacuation order is issued.

The BC Wildfire Service said Monday that favorable weather in the province’s northeast over the next few days will help crews make progress, but the drought situation means conditions are still unusually dry.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2024.

The Canadian Press