Drone grounds helicopters preventing firefighting efforts near Saprae Creek

Alberta RCMP says a drone has prevented firefighting attempts near Saprae Creek — just east of Fort McMurray.

Alberta Wildfire and other emergency services have been battling a forest fire in the area, however, a drone has been seen flying and has resulted in helicopters being grounded.

“Drones are not allowed to be flowed within 5 nautical miles or 9.3 kilometers of an active wildfire. When we discover a drone that is unknown that is flying within those parameters, we have to halt all aerial operations because it is not safe to have drones flying when we don’t know where they are all the time,” said Emily Smith, information officer with Alberta Wildfire.

“So when that happens, we have to ground everything and that directly impacts how we can fight a wildfire.”

RCMP says the grounded helicopters are a major concern as they are a key method in fighting fires and keeping them under control.

Residents of Saprae Creek Estates are under an Evacuation Alert due to the wildfire, which is moving toward the community.

“The western flank is approximately 4.5 kilometers from Saprae Creek Estates.”

Residents of the community are asked to listen to emergency personnel and be prepared for a possible Evacuation Order.

Meanwhile, the RCMP is urging the public to not fly any drones near any forest fire area, or an area that might be in the flight path of a helicopter. Anyone who fails to comply could be charged.

“You can face a court appearance for it, it is a very serious thing. We do not want any of our firefighters, pilots, contractors, anybody involved with the wildfire to be put at risk. So please just don’t do it, don’t fly anywhere near a wildfire,” said Smith.

-With files from Laura Krause

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today