During the fire season, it's tough enough for fire crews trying to put out wildfires, while dealing with hot temperatures and often windy conditions. Over the past week, however, crews ran up against another obstacle as they battled blazes: drones.
Thus far, two drone sightings have forced firefighting aircraft to land. The first happened during the Goodwin Fire, and the second incident occurred over the weekend, at the Crusher Fire near Flagstaff. The Crusher Fire was halted by firefighters Saturday afternoon, before it could grow much larger than five acres.
Police arrested a suspect in the Goodwin Fire incident. 54-year-old Gene Allan Carpenter, found with a drone and pictures of the Goodwin Fire on his website, remains in Yavapai County Jail.
Experts said if convicted, Carpenter might not get jail time.
"I think ultimately, he will get a large fine," said Dustin Pennington with Flite Factory. "If he does, he would be the first to get jail time for a drone incident."
Pennington is building a website to educate and connect drone pilots with new customers. Right now, Pennington said the incursion incidents are an education problem.
"It's just a new industry, so there are going to be some growing pains and some learning curves that everyone has to go through," said Pennington. "It's going to be a few years before drones are as common as cars."
Carpenter is due in court on July 6.