As the Province is currently using about 200 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to fight forest fires, recreational pilots are reminded automatic airspace restrictions are in place within five nautical miles of all forest fires, and that flying over wildfires can interfere with firefighting efforts.
Crews in air tankers, helicopters and detection patrols have all observed a recent increase in recreational activity in restricted airspace. Besides contributing to the risk of collision, unauthorized aircraft can seriously disrupt the work and divert the attention and efforts of firefighting crews.
Flying conditions in many parts of the province are extremely dangerous due to the excessive amounts of smoke created by forest fires currently burning in British Columbia. Firefighting planes and helicopters can often be hidden by smoke and emerge quickly while battling a fire. There are currently 33 airtankers and birddog aircraft, and 170 helicopters working in fire suppression around the province.
Though recreational pilots are recognized as valuable assets for reporting fires and their help is appreciated, they are asked - for the safety of themselves, firefighting crews and residents affected by the wildfires - to respect the automatic airspace restrictions.
Automatic airspace restrictions are covered by Section 601.15 of Canadian aviation regulations, which stipulates no unauthorized person shall operate an aircraft over a forest fire area, or over any area that is located within five nautical miles of one, at an altitude of less than 914 metres or 3,000 feet.
To report a forest fire, call *5555 on a cellphone or toll-free to 1 800 663-5555. For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions, visit www.firesafebc.ca