As firefighters take to Oregon skies, a request to drone enthusiasts: 'If you fly, we can't'

Image provided to KPTV.

MARION COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - As visibility improves, Oregon firefighters are asking drone enthusiasts to not fly their equipment, as a large number of helicopters and planes will soon take flight.

The helicopters and planes will help fire crews as they engage on wildfires burning across the state, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

“We’re looking to Oregonians statewide to help us make the most of these resources and ensure our people stay safe by keeping their personal drones on the ground," ODF’s Chief of Fire Protection Doug Grafe said. "If you fly, we can’t."

According to Grafe, firefighters use aviation assets to drop water and retardant over the flames and to gain aerial views of the fire, especially hidden hot spots that need extinguishing.

 “That aerial view informs our operational decisions and helps us provide accurate information about fire perimeters and activities to the public,” Grafe said.

More: Wildfire coverage

Poor visibility over the state from the heavy smoke has prevented firefighting aircraft from fully engaging on wildfires. With forecasts calling for clearer skies in coming days, fire officials say the public should expect to see many more planes and helicopters in and around wildfires, sources of water and airstrips.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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(1) comment

Roberto Estrello Demar

That use of drones limits the utilization of emergency aircraft is common knowledge at this point, even more so among the drone flying community.

The games are over. Please, toast the drones and prosecute to the fullest. Until you begin taking the drones seriously, the drone flyers will not take you seriously. Neither will the Public. Appropriations season is coming up fast;-)

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