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Temporary flight restrictions in place over William, Ether Hollow fires

Strong winds could ground helicopters, who are helping build containment lines on the William Fire in Utah County. (Photo: Utah Fire Info.)

UTAH COUNTY, Utah – Temporary flight restrictions are now in place over the William and Ether Hollow fires. 

The temporary flight restrictions implement no-fly zones apply to all aircraft, including drones, to protect helicopters making water drops. 

Incident management spokeswoman Dana Harris says the steep terrain’s making it hard for firefighters to get a handle on the fires. 

“It’s really slow going to get people in there, and sometimes it’s so steep and so dangerous we can’t put firefighters on the ground. So, we’re utilizing helicopters,” Harris says. 

The dry brush for both the William and Ether Hollow fires have also been able to hold a lot of heat.

But drones and other aircraft in the area make the job difficult for pilots. 

“They’re watching their bucket, they’re watching where they’re putting the water, [and] they’re watching where they’re dipping from. So, it’s very technical and it’s work they have to concentrate on. To have another aircraft come in that they weren’t expecting is super dangerous,” Harris says. 

And possibly deadly.  

“It’s really difficult to see from a firefighting aircraft, and so the chance of collision is there. And something small like a drone can actually bring an aircraft down,” Harris says.    

At least one drone has been spotted near the William Fire, though it did not collide with any helicopters. 

Firefighters hope that keeping the airspace clear will help them put out hot spots and build containment lines. 

As of Wednesday, the William Fire was 4,895 acres and 18% contained. The Ether Hollow Fire was 869 acres and not contained at all. 

Both fires are believed to have been sparked by target shooters.