Drone caused delay for firefighters combatting wildfire in Williams

A message to drone owners when it comes to wildfires - stay out of the way!

WILLIAMS, Ariz.- Firefighters of the Williams Fire Department contained a small wildfire Thursday, despite not being able to drop water by helicopter due to a drone flying in the area.

The fire started just before 1 p.m. Thursday and was located on the southwest side of Cemetery Hill, less than a quarter mile away from residents. 

The helicopter was advised to stay grounded until the Coconino County Sheriff's Office could find the drone operator and get the drone cleared. The drone eventually left the area but the operator was never found, Williams fire said. 

With the area cleared, fire crews were able to guide the helicopter to the area to make water drops. The fire was contained at less than an acre in size.

“People may be flying a drone, thinking it’s cool to get video footage of a wildfire, but they don’t realize the impacts they have on our ability to do our jobs,” incident commander Mike Uebel said. “Sometimes your actions that seem harmless can have major impacts to the safety of firefighters and to the safety of our community. If we can’t respond, we can’t put out the fire.”

Wildfires are "No Drone Zones." Fire departments and incident management teams across Arizona are reminding people, "if you fly, we can't."

Arizona is experiencing several different wildfires at the moment. 

READ: AP: Arizona has the most wildfires burning in the US

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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