Aviators Urged To Obey Temporary Flight Restrictions Over Swan Lake Fire to Prevent Aviation Accidents and Allow Effective Fire Suppression Efforts

The Eastern Area Incident Management Team managing the Swan Lake Fire is urging all aviators who are planning to fly over or near the Kenai Peninsula to obey the temporary flight restrictions (TFR) (NOTAM: 9/0573) in order to prevent accidents and allow fire air operations to provide effective suppression efforts in support of firefighters. The TFR includes the western portion of the Chugach National Forest and the Sterling Highway corridor. The use of any unauthorized aircraft in the TFR and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is not permitted.

Temporary Flight Restriction map for the Swan Lake Fire near Sterling, Alaska. NOTAM: 9/0573

Multiple aircraft are violating the Swan Lake Fire TFR every day, which creates the potential for a serious accident. The hazard may impact air operations on the fire if pilots continue to violate the TFR. Just one incident on a wildfire can adversely affect the safety and efficiency of the overall firefighting effort. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations require all aviators to follow TFR restrictions. Violators of the TFR will be reported to the FAA. Pilots can confirm the current TFR restrictions at: https://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_9_0573.html.

“It would be a real tragedy if an aircraft collision or a TFR violation caused a fire aircraft to crash, resulting in serious injuries or fatalities,” said Incident Commander Brian Pisarek, with the Eastern Area Incident Management Team. “We are asking the public to work with us to help prevent that from happening.”

If aircraft continue to violate the TFR, air operations could be suspended until the risk of a mid-air collision is resolved. When firefighting aircraft are grounded for any reason, fire crews lose access to a valuable resource, which can adversely affect the safety and efficiency of the overall firefighting effort. Flying unauthorized aircraft near a wildfire is putting someone else’s life in danger. In addition, air resources incur large costs to taxpayers even while grounded for safety reasons.

Agency and contractor airplanes and helicopters provide critical support to fire suppression operations, flying at low altitudes to perform a variety of missions to support firefighters on the ground by hauling and dropping loads of water to reduce hotspots, perform reconnaissance and monitoring of fire activity, and transport firefighters and critical supplies to remote areas of the fire. Information about flights, TFRs, and Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is also available on several websites:

A helicopter drops water on the Swan Lake Fire near Sterling, Alaska. (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Steven Bekkerus).
Aviators urged to obey temporary flight restrictions over swan lake fire to prevent aviation accidents and allow effective fire suppression efforts.
Aviators are urged to obey temporary flight restrictions over Swan Lake fire
to prevent aviation accidents and allow effective fire suppression efforts.
Fire suppression aircraft operate at low altitudes in congested areas,
so they are closely monitored by ground control to avoid collisions.
Unauthorized aircraft entering an active wildfire area
create a life-threatening hazard to firefighters.

About 2019swanlakefireinfo

The Swan Lake Fire was started by lightning on June 5th, 2019, in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

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