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Multiple cases of unauthorized aircrafts entering restricted airspace around Shawnee Peak Fire

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Posted at 7:45 AM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 09:45:36-04

SHAWNEE, Colo. — Fire officials working at the Shawnee Peak Fire said they have noted three violations of the project's airspace since the fire sparked on Aug. 26.

The third — and most recent — violator was the pilot of a small, single-engine airplane who entered the restricted airspace earlier this week, according to fire officials with Pike & San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron & Comanche National Grasslands. A previous violator had gone into the airspace during the initial stages of the fire, they said.

These unauthorized aircrafts pose a high risk of a mid-air collision, officials said. This is a safety threat to firefighters on the ground and in the air.

The FAA issued a temporary flight restriction for the fire on Aug. 27. When an unathorized aircraft enters the restricted space, all aircraft working on the fire — including those hauling cargo, dropping water or shuttling firefighters — must return to their base or closest helispot until the airspace is cleared, officials said.

Pilots are responsible for understanding the flight restriction areas around them. If they are found in a restricted or prohibited area, they could face a suspension of their certificate for 30 to 90 days.

Drone operators must adhere to these rules as well.

READ MORE: Officials: Shawnee Peak Fire, which grew to 70 acres after lightning strike, is now 60% contained