PARK COUNTY, Colo. — Multiple flights have entered the restricted airspace over the Shawnee Peak Fire in Park County, according to authorities.
The United States Forest Service said Tuesday that a small, single-engine plane flew through the restricted area earlier this week. It was the third violation of the restricted airspace over the wildfire.
The fire has been burning southwest of the town of Shawnee since Aug. 26. A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been in place since Aug. 27.
The Forest Service says flying through the restricted area poses a risk of a mid-air collision and puts firefighters’ safety at risk.
“When an illegal incursion of a TFR occurs, aircraft assigned to the fire must immediately return to their base or to the closest helispot until the airspace is clear. This means all fire operations using aircraft – such as hauling cargo, dropping water, and shuttling firefighters – must cease. In the case of extracting an injured firefighter, this could mean the difference between life and death,” the Forest Service said in a statement.
Pilots are responsible for knowing when and where a TFR is in place.
According to the Forest Service, a pilot operating within a TFR could face a suspension of their certificate for 30 to 90 days.
“Whether you fly a fixed wing, helicopter, glider, hang glider, or are a drone operator, please remember: IF YOU FLY, WE CANNOT,” the Forest Service said.
The fire has burned 70 acres. It is 60% contained. Officials believe it was started by lightning.