Oregon fire officials are expecting that as visibility improves, a large number of helicopters and planes will soon take flight and start engaging on the many wildfires in the state.
The fire officials are appealing to drone enthusiasts to not fly their equipment while skies over Oregon are so busy.
“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. If you fly, we can’t,” Oregon Department of Forestry Chief of Fire Protection Doug Grafe said.
Grafe said two key ways firefighters use aviation assets is to actively fight fires using water and retardant drops and to provide an aerial view of the fires, 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.
“We appreciate the cooperation from drone hobbyists," State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said. "By keeping their drones on the ground for the time being, we’ll be able to get our helicopters and planes safely in the air fighting fires.”
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.