Pole Creek Fire: Police seek person responsible for drone flight that grounded air support

Firefighters worked through one of the toughest days yet on the Pole Creek and Bald Mountain Fires in Utah County on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. They said the fight was made more difficult when they had to ground air support on the south end of the fire because someone flew a drone in the area. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — All the work firefighters have done on the two fires burning in Utah County, they said would be put to the test Wednesday.

“Essentially, the fire is up to bat today,” said Steve Kliest, speaking for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team working on the Bald Mountain fire. He said with red flag conditions, low humidity and unstable air, mother nature was not on the side of firefighters.

In fact, it was the worst of the worst according to Dan Dallas, also on the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.

“We are going to take a test today on our fire, a wind test,” he said.

Both fires have some containment, but that will be tested with the conditions, Dallas said.

“You have kind of the combination today of where we expect really, really active fire behavior,” Dallas said.

To make matters more difficult, air firefighting operations were shut down because someone flew a drone over a southern part of the Pole Creek Fire, said Sergeant Spencer Cannon, a public information officer for the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

“It makes me mad," Cannon said. "It makes me really angry that one person, or people—that I don’t know who would be self-centered and selfish enough—and there’s no way they could not know that fire operations are going on."

Cannon's patience was tested along with the wind as he fumed about the drone flight that hindered firefighters' progress.

“It is a crime to fly a drone in an area where active fire operations are underway," Cannon said.

The drone is believed to have been flown out of Utah or Sanpete County. It was flown over the south end of the fire.

Cannon is asking anyone with information about who flew the drone over the fire to contact the Utah County Sheriff's Office through Utah Valley Dispatch at 801-794-3970.

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