Officials say illegal drones are hampering efforts to contain a wildfire threatening communities in eastern Arizona.

Navajo County spokesman Adam Wolfe said Thursday that drone operators have been flying near the roughly 70-square-mile blaze. Airspace over the fire, which is 2 ½ miles north of the Cedar Creek community, is under a temporary flight restriction.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation creating a comprehensive state policy on drone use that includes a ban on cities and towns making their own rules regulating the small aircraft.

Wednesday's action comes after Republican Sen. John Kavanagh, cities and towns and other groups negotiated on Senate Bill 1449. Businesses that hope to use drones commercially were pushing for uniform statewide rules.

John Vogel/USGS

Scientists in northern Arizona have something new in their field kits: custom-made drones. Up until now, researchers strapped their scientific equipment to old military discards or simple hobby drones. Now they can order drones tailored for science.

Lawmaker Seeks to Curb Civilian Drone Use

Feb 12, 2014

For $200 you can go to an electronics store, buy a remote control helicopter, strap a camera to it and fly it over your neighbor’s property and peek through the windows. As Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports, now a state lawmaker wants to put a stop to all that.

Arizona's Bid to Become a Drone Test Site Rejected

Dec 31, 2013

The state’s bid to become a test site for unmanned drones was rejected today as federal officials picked six other proposals. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.