Man charged over 'reckless' alleged flying of drone as helicopters fought Wanaka fire

A man has been charged with endangering a transport facility after a drone was allegedly flown in the area of the fire on Mt Roy in Wanaka this afternoon.

Police say eight helicopters battling the blaze were grounded for 15 minutes when the drone was spotted.

Police managed to locate the drone pilot nearby, seize the drone and arrest the 33-year-old man.

He is due to appear in the Queenstown District Court next Monday.

Wanaka Area Response Manager Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell says to fly a drone where helicopters are working is reckless and it’s a timely reminder for drone operators to think before they fly.

“Not only did the grounding of the helicopters cost money and valuable time in the efforts to extinguish the blaze, it put the safety and lives of the helicopter pilots at risk,” Mr Grindell said.

The  fire was contained this evening and crews will remain onsite overnight to maintain control of it.

Fire and Emergency said the fire spread to 200 hectares and shifted up-hill, towards Roy Peak, away from houses. 

There have been no reports of damage to any properties and fire crews are working with farmers to move stock out of the way to ensure their safety, a spokesperson said.

The fire broke out behind houses and a holiday park and has spread over a wide area. Source: 1 NEWS