Drone incursion halts Coldwater Fire air operations

Contact(s): Coldwater Fire, (928) 275-1564

CLINTS WELL, Ariz., June 9, 2019 – The air attack coordinator flying on the Coldwater Fire Saturday spotted a drone within the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) area and grounded the helicopter assigned to the fire until it was safe to resume air operations.

Coldwater smoke from UAS 6-8-19THMB 

It is illegal to operate a private drone near any wildfire. Saturday, the air attack fixed-wing pilot, reported a private drone within the TFR. Drones near wildfires create a serious safety hazard for fire aircraft and result in aircraft being grounded immediately.

Fire crews today are conducting burning operations along Forest Road 141 on the southeast boundary. In the same area Saturday, the incident commander ordered a qualified Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) assigned to the fire to fly several operations. The UAS was used to drop small detonation devices for ignitions during burnout operations in places hard to ignite by hand and also flew reconnaissance missions.

Burnout operations begin along state Route 87 on Monday, which will likely result in increased smoke and reduced visibility on the highway. There is likely to be temporary lane closures and the use of pilot cars to escort traffic. These traffic patterns changes may cause long delays in both directions.

The Coldwater Fire is located about 4 miles south of Clints Well, within 1 mile east of state Route 87. It has burned approximately 5,800 acres inside of the 17,400 acre planned area where the fire is running its natural course.

The fire may not burn all the fuels in the planned area and is being suppressed in areas near homes, structures, cultural sites, power transmission lines, trailheads, campgrounds and other values at risk.

More Coldwater Fire information is available on Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6363/.  Immediate updates of notable fire activity and smoke impacts are shared on the Coconino National Forest’s social media sites, which are Twitter, @CoconinoNF; and Facebook, @CoconinoNF. These links are also listed on the Forest’s website www.coconinonationalforest.us

Remember, when it comes to drones and wildfires… “If you fly, We can’t!”


Coldwater Fire Overview

  • Coldwater Fire Inciweb site: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6363/

  • Discovery date: May 30, 2019 at approximately 6:50 a.m.

  •  Cause: Lightning.
  • Origin location: Approximately 4 miles south of Clints Well (Latitude/Longitude: 34.492, -111.302)

  • Current size: 5,873 acres in a 17,400 acre planning area.

  • Current resources: Air attack with helicopter, two Hotshot crews, two fuels crews, a dozer, a grader and seven engines. Total personnel: approximately 119.

  • Predicted smoke impacts: Expect increased smoke production over the next few days, with the most significant impacts in the Clint Wells area, including Sunrise Resort and Happy Jack Lodge. The communities within the Blue Ridge area and as far south as Payson will also be effected with smoke at times. Today’s wind shift could add smoke impacts to Strawberry, Pine, Payson and the Camp Verde. These communities may also experience smoke impacts in the evening and overnight as smoke drains into those lower elevations. Firefighter, public safety, and ecosystem health remain the top priorities for fire managers while keeping the fire within the planning area. Smoke may appear thicker at times due to burnout operations or as the wildfire consumes larger trees. This is normal.

  • Current closures: None currently, but a closure around the fire area is anticipated soon. Additionally, there may be times when ADOT personnel will be closing sections of state Route 87 or using pilot car for reduced visibility.

  • Recent and current operations: Wildland firefighting crews are conducting burnout operations to ensure it remains in the planning area. Current operations are taking place along Forest Road 141, and continued preparation for burnout operations Monday on state Route 87.

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