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(AP Photo)
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Drone hinders firefighting efforts in Arizona forest

(AP Photo)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Coconino National Forest officials said a drone hindered efforts to fight a northern Arizona grass fire over the weekend.

Forest spokesman Brady Smith said the drone’s presence Friday near the fire about 15 miles north of Flagstaff caused a helicopter to delay its arrival to help map the spread of the fire.

Forest officials said members of the public, news media, film and video production companies and others should never fly drones over or near a wildfire.

Officials said unauthorized drone flights can cause serious injury to firefighting personnel in the air and to firefighters and others on the ground.

The 228-acre grass fire was declared 100 percent contained Saturday. Several communications towers and a retired Forest Service fire guard station were threatened but not damaged.

The fire’s cause was under investigation.