August 7, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
With several very large wildfires currently burning across southwest Oregon, state firefighting officials are asking general aviation pilots to be aware of and avoid the fire areas, even where temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) might not exist.
As of Aug. 6, nearly 50,000 acres of forest in southwest Oregon was in flames, and weather conditions called for a likely expansion of that fire threat. According to a memo from Doug Decker, director of the state’s Department of Forestry, "lightning across southern Oregon sparked 300 fires." Since then, the state has shifted resources to support firefighting efforts to battle blazes, using more than 5,000 firefighters.
“The high concentration of aviation activities related to fighting these fires creates a hazard to uninvolved aircraft,” said David Ulane, AOPA Northwest regional manager. “Pilots should help aerial firefighting crews work safely and efficiently by avoiding fire areas.”
AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro also advised pilots planning to fly in southwest Oregon to frequently check TFRs along their intended route of flight, and check the Oregon Department of Forestry’s website for current fire operations areas that they should avoid if possible. AOPA’s FlyQ EFB iPad app provides graphical depictions of TFRs that is updated hourly, as does the online FlyQ Web flight planner.
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