Drone hindered aerial support at Baldivis bushfire

PIC: BigStock

Aerial support at a recent bushfire in Baldivis was hampered by the presence of an illegally operated drone in the active fire zone.

The bushfire started near the intersection of Kerosene Lane and Jennings Way on Wednesday, with emergency crews responding quickly to extinguish the blaze.

However, vital aerial support was forced to wait to enter the vicinity as a drone was spotted in the area. 

Flying a drone near the scene of a bushfire prevents air assets deploying to the fire ground, due to the risk of collision, limiting the emergency response and potentially enabling the fire to spread further and faster.    

City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said flying drones near a bushfire was an unnecessary and unacceptable act which heightened risks to people, property and the environment in need of immediate support.

“Bushfires are not opportunities to take video or photos for social media," Mayor Sammels said.

"They are potentially life threatening emergencies which must be respected as such.

"Unauthorised use of a drone in an active fire zone poses a safety risk to aerial assets, effectively preventing them from being involved, and therefore increasing the risks on the ground.

“This is a very serious matter so I implore all drone operators to keep away from fires and all emergency services. I remind everyone that the penalties for inappropriate drone use are severe.” 

Anyone caught flying a drone near an active bushfire or other emergency situations could be fined up to $10,500.

Anyone witnessing a drone operator in a fire zone is asked to report the matter to WA Police and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

For more information regarding the use of drones around emergencies visit casa.gov.au/drones/rules/emergencies.

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