‘Drone crash’ starts fire in Arizona

Coconino national forest

A drone owner has been charged with starting a fire that destroyed an area of 300 acres (1.2 square kilometers) of grasslands in Arizona’s Coconino national forest.

A drone would have caught fire after it crashed, setting fire to the dry grass on an area known as Kendrick Park, near Flagstaff.

About 30 firefighters brought the fire under control within a day.

If he is found guilty, the drone’s owner could face a fine, community service or a prison sentence.

Last year, a homeless man whose cooking fire accidentally set fire to more than 282 acres of Arizona forest received 12 months in prison and was sentenced to a fine of $12 000(£8,660).
Drone conflict

While addressing the incident of last week, the fire department preemptively set fire to the prairie around a local landmark – the Chapel of the Sainte-Colombe – to ensure that the small church was not threatened by the flames.

Warnings were issued to drivers in the dense area of the smoke of the fire of difficult driving conditions on the roads through the Kendrick Park area.

While it is legal to fly a drone in a national forest, there are strict regulations governing when and where they can fly.

The Drones must not be transported in desert areas, or in areas where the forest fires are active.

In 2017, helicopters, helping to fight a fire in the same forest have been hampered by a drone to take photos of the fire.

The pilot of the unmanned craft has not been identified.

Fire-fighting planes and helicopters help to try to solve fire season in other regions have also been temporarily grounded for fear of a collision with a drone.