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Drone grounds helicopters battling Lytton wildfire

Last Updated Jun 19, 2021 at 7:11 pm PDT

FILE - The George Road Wildfire burning near Lytton. (Courtesy Twitter/BCGovFireInfo)

B.C. Wildfire Service helicopters were grounded Saturday after a drone sighting near the George Road wildfire

Firefighting helicopters were grounded for an hour and a half

LYTTON (NEWS 1130) — A drone sighting grounded a fleet of helicopters that had been fighting a massive wildfire near Lytton for a time on Saturday.

B.C. Wildfire Service says after the drone was spotted, the helicopter crews bucketing water on the fire were forced to stop battling the 250 hectare blaze. The George Road fire started on Wednesday, June 16, and is classified as out of control.

“You can imagine this type of activity is extremely dangerous and poses a significant safety risk to personnel, especially when low flying aircraft are present,” Fire Information Officer Madison Smith says.

The consequences for flying a drone near firefighting aircraft can be considerable.

“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,” Smith says.

Air drops on the George Road fire resumed at 2pm on Saturday, after being grounded for about an hour and a half.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says the evacuation alerts, which were set up in the area, have not grown.