(Updated 4:35 p.m. MDT, July 31, 2016)
Drones shut down air operations over the Pioneer fire for 45 minutes on Sunday, while the fire continued to spread due to erratic weather conditions.
In a post on InciWeb, the incident management team said the drone incursion came at a critical time for firefighters.
Aviation operations once again stopped for 45 minutes during a critical period of fire suppression due to an unmanned aircraft incursion. IF YOU FLY WE CAN’T. PLEASE DO NOT FLY DRONES IN OR NEAR THE FIRE AREA.
Such a delay seems to have become common place on many fires, and last week incident management teams in California and Montana reported halting air operations due to drones in the area.
A spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center has urged people not to flying drones into wildfire areas, and has said that people caught flying drones in wildfire zones could face criminal charges.
Meanwhile, the Pioneer fire has burned 27,271 acres and is 27 percent contained.
Crews on the 18,933-acre Pioneer fire north of Idaho City are facing a weekend of windy weather, which will likely fan the flames of a fire that has been burning since July 18.
Here’s the outlook for Sunday’s weather:
A passing cold front this evening may produce thunderstorms with gusty, erratic winds and increased fire behavior.Smoke will likely again be visible from great distances.
Crews are also grappling with poor access, steep terrain, dry forests and old mining sites, according to posts on InciWeb.
On Friday, heavy smoke from the fire drifted east and triggered warnings for unhealthy levels of smoke pollution. Smoke from the Pioneer fire was also drifting into Northern Colorado.
Saturday’s outlook in Idaho, however, predicted normal air quality, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.