Drone operator stops Christmas Day bushfire waterbombing on Bruny Island
Helicopters had to cease waterbombing due to the drone flying nearby. (ABC News: David Hudspeth)
Aircraft waterbombing a Christmas Day bushfire in Tasmania had to be called off due to a drone flying in the area.
- The drone was being controlled by from Kettering Oval area, across from Bruny Island
- Flying drones near bushfires can be an offence under the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, police said
- A fire was still active in a 120-hectare area at the island’s southern end on Boxing Day
Seven helicopters with waterbombing and spraying capabilities spent much of yesterday fighting the bushfire on Bruny Island, a popular spot with holidaymakers south of Hobart.
Fires burnt through about 130 hectares on Christmas Eve and into Christmas morning, with about 150 people evacuated from the southern end of the island.
During the early hours of Christmas morning conditions worsened with strong winds pushing the fire in an easterly direction towards Prices Lookout, the Tasmania Fire Service said in a statement.
The fire spread quickly, with flame heights reaching 30 to 40 metres.
Local volunteer crews from South and North Bruny Island responded with support from a number of firebombing aircraft, the TFS said.
“Fire crews did a tremendous job protecting a number of properties, one property was lost as well as a number of sheds. The full extent of the fires damage is being assessed over the next few days,” TFS incident controller Neil Brooksbank said.
The fire alert has been downgraded to a watch and act level as of Boxing Day. (ABC News: Dave Hudspeth)
About 5:00pm yesterday, helicopters involved in the firefighting efforts were grounded because of a drone seen flying in their airspace.
Police said the drone, which was being controlled from the Kettering oval area, compromised firefighting efforts and put the Bruny Island community at risk.
“Flying drones near bushfires can be an offence under the Civil Aviation Safety Authority,” Tasmania Police said in a statement.
Police have not confirmed if the operator was charged over the drone use near the fire area.
The alert for the fire at Conleys Point and the Cloudy Bay area, South Bruny, has been downgraded to advice level.
Weather conditions over the next few days are favourable for fire crews, the TFS said.