Drone use halts air operations for fifth time as crews battle Saddle Fire

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PINE VALLEY, Utah — As crews continued to battle the Saddle Fire in southern Utah Sunday night, a fifth incident of illegal drone use halted air operations.

According to a press release from fire officials, aircraft fighting the Saddle Fire near Pine Valley were halted around 6:30 p.m. due to a drone in the area.

The press release states: “Everyone is reminded to never fly drones over a wildfire. If you fly, we can’t. Because of the inaccessibility of the fire perimiter, fire managers utilize aircraft to support firefighters in challenging areas.”

Flying a drone in a prohibited area is a misdemeanor in Utah, and felony charges are possible in the case of a collision. There is a 5-mile no fly zone around the Saddle Fire.

The fire is 45 percent contained as of Sunday night, and it has burned an estimated 2,295 acres. A public information meeting will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Pine Valley Fire Station.