PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- After a public drone interrupted helicopter operations while crews battled the Coldwater Fire near Clints Well, Gov. Doug Ducey reminding the public that it's illegal to fly drones in the proximity of wildfires.
The Arizona governor went to social media to condemn the act.
"Flying drones over or near wildfires is irresponsible, dangerous and illegal. DON'T DO IT," Ducey tweeted on Saturday afternoon.
He mentioned how illegal drone flying over wildfires can stop fire crews from doing their job while adding it's unsafe for people and animals.
According to Ducey's tweet, five aviation operations had to ground when trying to defeat fires in Arizona due to drones.
5 aviation operations grounded during a critical #AZfire suppression effort. 5.— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) June 10, 2019
Flying drones over or near wildfires is irresponsible, dangerous and illegal. DON’T DO IT. It prevents first responders from putting out fires and puts people and pets in danger @azcentral https://t.co/loocxndOuk
Tiffany Davila, a public affairs officer of the Department of Forestry and Fire Management, referenced federal regulation 43 CFR 9212.1(f) that bans acts like flying drones around wildfires. It describes illegal actions associated with starting wildfires or intervening with firefighters' attempt to extinguish fires.
"Folks caught with a UAS [unmanned aircraft system] on a wildfire can face fines, jail time and confiscation of the drone," said Davila.
Davila said the pilots can't see the drone so they have to stay on the ground.
"It's a huge safety risk when we find a drone in our airspace. Not only do we have to ground all aircraft, which leads to lower suppression efforts on the ground, increased threat of the wildfire growing, increased threat to the public and the residents in the area but it's a huge safety risk all around," Davila said.
Davila also provided Arizona's Family with an informational graphic that shows at least 23 aerial firefighting efforts throughout the country that were shutdown in 2018 due to public drones.
"A photo or video is not worth the risk of killing somebody on the ground, having our aircraft have to be grounded because we can't fight the fire now that we have a drone in our airspace," Davila said.