The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are warning western pilots to check notices to airmen (notams) for temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) associated with some 86 wildfires blazing in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. More than 57 TFRs are currently active to protect aircraft fighting the fires. (TFR notams are online.) Also, temporary control towers are being established at some previously uncontrolled airports.
New fires are starting that are not yet under TFR but pose hazards to pilots, which include strong downdrafts and severe turbulence due to smoke columns and marginal visibility. Pilots are warned that when flying anywhere in the West below 2,000 feet agl, firefighting aircraft could be in the area, either fighting a nearby wildfire or flying to and from fire locations. (General fire information is available online.)
If pilots spot a fire, they should navigate well clear of the fire and give a location report to the nearest flight service station.
August 17, 2000