Drone Forces BLM to Ground Aircraft Over Grassy Ridge Fire

Dubois (670 KBOI News) – The Grassy Ridge fire near Dubois was apparently too good an opportunity for a drone operator to pass up, but it could have had dire consequences for firefighters.

Kelsey Griffee with the BLM office in Idaho Falls, says aerial operations had to be suspended when a drone suddenly appeared in a temporary flight restricted area.

“The drone was spotted, so we had to ground all ground all air resources,” said Griffee.  “What was lucky is, we were not actively suppressing the fire at the time.  The fire was 97% contained, and so pretty much, we were doing more ‘eyes in the skies’ type of work.”

Griffee said not only do drones pose a risk for aircraft operating in the area, but if retardant and water drops have to be suspended, it could threaten the safety of ground crews, and nearby towns.

A Department of the Interior regulation makes it illegal to resist or interfere with the efforts of firefighters to extinguish a fire. You could have to pay a stiff fine and appear in court if cited for it.