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B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service
The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)

Air operations on the south side of a 250-hectare wildfire near Lytton were suspended Saturday due to a drone seen flying in the vicinity.

“Flying a drone within the air space of a wildfire is extremely dangerous and poses a significant safety risk to personnel,” said BC Wildfire Service information officer Madison Smith.

“If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly.”

Penalties for anyone caught operating a drone in the province’s wildfire territory are eligible for a $100,000 fine, one year in jail or both, Smith confirmed.

Transport Canada restricts the use of UAVs or drones of any size within a five-mile radius of wildfires.

RELATED: Out-of-control wildfire near Lytton grows to 110 hectares Friday

There were 73 firefighters, nine helicopters and two pieces of heavy equipment deployed to the fire on Saturday.

The blaze, which sparked Wednesday, has charred one square kilometre of bush in Fraser Canyon and continues to rage on the east side of Highway 1.

Evacuation alerts issued by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the Lytton First Nation, covering 18 properties south and east of Lytton, remain in effect.

The fire remains under investigation, but it is believed to be human-caused.

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