December 5, 2023

State officers are warning drone pilots to fly a secure distance from firefighting airspace, saying the unmanned automobiles have interfered with “essential” operations a half-dozen occasions up to now this yr.

“The hazard of flying drones close to wildfires can’t be overstated,” Jake Sjolund, chief of tactical air operations for the state company, mentioned Friday. “Such actions jeopardize lives and have rapid penalties for firefighting companies’ response efforts.”

The Federal Aviation Administration recurrently implements Non permanent Flight Restrictions round wildfire areas to guard the security of plane collaborating in firefighting operations. All plane, together with drones, are explicitly prohibited from getting into these restricted areas until they’re operated by an company immediately concerned in wildfire suppression efforts.

Even when a TFR isn’t in impact, drone pilots are strongly urged to keep away from flying close to wildfires as it’s thought of a criminal offense to intrude with firefighting operations.

When drones cross into wildfire areas, firefighting companies quickly droop air assist take-off to forestall accidents. The grounding of aerial assist could result in wildfires increasing, and may put lives at additional danger, officers mentioned.

Those that pilot drones with out authorization over wildfire areas can face authorized motion and fines as much as $20,000.

–Metropolis Information Service