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CFS call to clear Coomunga fire airspace

23/11/2012

Country Fire Service (CFS) Aviation Services has appealed to local pilots who are flying through Eyre Peninsula to stay well clear of the airspace above the fire-ground in Coomunga, five kilometres from Port Lincoln.

Manager of Aviation Operations David Pearce said the airspace around a fire can become congested with aircraft flying at altitudes between 200 to 2000 feet above ground level.

"We are asking pilots in the area to adhere to the 'Notice to Airmen' that was issued requesting that aircraft travelling below 3000 feet above ground level to remain 10 kilometres clear of the Coomunga fires," Mr Pearce said.

"Bombing aircraft don't just stay at the fire but travel back and forth to reload and refuel, meaning aircraft will be leaving and returning to the fire ground constantly," he said.

"Visibility in the vicinity of a fire is generally poor due to the smoke so we want to ensure that the safety of all pilots is maintained."

Five aircraft are supporting the fire fighting efforts and have dropped over 350,000 litres of water on the Coomunga fire since Tuesday.

In addition to the fixed wing bombers, the CFS has deployed command and observation aircraft that fly above the fire and map the fire activity to coordinate the water bombing attack.

"CFS aircraft keep close radio contact to ensure appropriate separation of aircraft," Mr Pearce said.

"While we appreciate pilots seeing smoke and wanting to gain an aerial view of the situation, this seemingly innocent action could become dangerous," he said.

"Local pilots are therefore asked to stay well clear of CFS operations for their own safety and for the safety of the CFS aerial fire fighting pilots.

"This applies not just to the Port Lincoln area but all fires no matter where they are in South Australia."

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For media enquiries telephone the CFS Media Line on (08) 8115 3531.

Further information:
Contact the Bushfire Information Hotline on 1800 362 361, for hearing or speech impaired users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 1800 362 361 or teletype service TTY 133 677 then ask for 1800 362 361.
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