SUPERIOR — Fire officials are reminding residents not to fly drones over a wildfire. A drone was spotted Thursday over the Telegraph Fire, which is burning between Superior and Globe.
If a drone is spotted flying over a fire, all air tankers, helicopters and other aerial fire support aircraft have to be grounded until the drone leaves the area, according to the National Interagency Fire Center’s website.
It is difficult for the pilots of firefighting aircraft to see the drones in the air and they have no way to contact the drone operator, increasing the risk of a mid-air collision between firefighting aircraft and a drone, which could cause the firefighting aircraft to crash, according to NIFC. The website also points out that flying a drone near a wildfire is illegal under federal law and could result in the drone operator serving 12 months in prison and being fined up to $20,000.
A Facebook Live event was scheduled at 6 p.m. on Friday to update the public on the fire.
The fire is currently 40% contained and has burned 86,529 acres. It has burned 20 structures, according to the morning briefing posted to the Telegraph Fire information Facebook page. The briefing did not list what kind of structures were burned or their location.
Crews have been successful in keeping the fire south of U.S. 60 and around Top of the World. However, U.S. 60 remains closed between Superior and Miami in order to allow firefighting crews and equipment to work in the area, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
State Routes 77 and 177 reopened Wednesday and some residents of the Miami area were allowed to return home, according to the briefing. The evacuation status for Superior and Battle Axe remains at “Ready,” which is the lowest evacuation standard and means that residents should have an emergency kit prepared. The evacuation status for Miami has been returned to “Set,” which means that residents should be prepared to leave the area at a moment’s notice.
On Friday, fire crews were looking to continue to secure a perimeter around the fire along U.S. 60 and Top of the World, said Telegraph Fire Operations Section Chief Todd Abel during a morning Facebook video briefing. Crews are also watching the fire lines along Signal and Pinal peaks and are looking at using roadways and trails south of the fire to help control the fire’s spread.
Light and moderate smoke from the Telegraph and Mescal fires was expected to drift across U.S. 60 between Miami and Globe Friday, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program. Increased levels of ozone in the area are possible in the afternoon and continue into next week. Residents who are sensitive to wildfire smoke may also be sensitive to ozone.