Firefighting helicopters deployed to battle a bushfire on Tasmania’s Bruny Island were grounded yesterday after authorities spotted a drone hovering in nearby airspace.
ABC reports seven aircraft were called in to combat the blaze, which engulfed an estimated 120 hectares of land in the state’s south-east.
Nearly 150 people were evacuated from the region as firefighters attempted to control the blaze, which authorities state claimed one property and a number of sheds.
On Christmas Day, Tasmania Fire Service revealed airborne attempts to fight the blaze had been suspended due to the sighting of a drone in the Kettering region.
In a statement, TFS advised “operators of drones to not fly near aircraft at any time.
“This puts the safety of people in aircraft at risk and also impacts on the safety of the community.”
Fortunately, TFS today stated the fire has been contained, advising residents and visitors that the island is safe.
Firefighters will take advantage of favourable weather conditions to deal with the remainder of the blaze, TFS said.
ABC states it is not yet clear if Tasmania Police charged the drone pilot over the incident.
The incident comes just a few days after the apparent sighting of drones above London’s Gatwick Airport grounded dozens of flights, causing commuter chaos in the lead-up to Christmas.
It has now been revealed the drone sightings may have been false alarms, which is perhaps an even more frustrating outcome for all involved.
The lesson here: don’t fly your gadgets – or joke about flying them – anywhere near airspace being used by actual people-carrying aircraft.