Oklahoma Forestry Officials Give Warning to Drone Operators

Officials say three incidents have already occurred in past months

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Forestry Services officials say the operators of unmanned aircraft systems, commonly known as drones, should avoid flying near or over wildfires.

State Forester Georg Geissler says aircraft used to drop water and fire retardants must divert from the fire when drones are detected in the area. The forestry service says there have been three instances in the past five months of drones at wildfires.

The firefighting aircraft sometimes flies lower than 200 feet from the ground, while drones can fly up to 400 feet. This creates the potential of a plane colliding with a drone, forcing the aircraft to divert away from the fire.

Officials say there were dozens of instances during the 2015 fire season in the western U.S. where tankers were diverted from fires because of drones.

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