- Associated Press - Thursday, July 6, 2017

MAYER, Ariz. (AP) - An Arizona man accused of endangering firefighting crews by flying a drone over a wildfire has pleaded not guilty.

Gene Alan Carpenter of Prescott Valley entered the plea Thursday in Mayer Justice Court and remains free after posting a $25,000 bond.

Yavapai County prosecutors filed two felony endangerment charges against Carpenter.

The criminal complaint says the 54-year-old hampered firefighting efforts and recklessly endangered aircraft and fire crews in the air and on the ground by flying an unmanned drone in closed airspace above an active fire area.

County sheriff’s deputies tracked down Carpenter after spotting a man flying the drone within hours of the fire reported June 24 in Prescott National Forest. He was arrested June 30.

A call to his public defender wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.

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