Drone Dangers: CalFire Warns Public Against Flying Near Wildfires

Keeping the skies clear for firefighting operations

In recent years, drone popularity has surged tremendously. Yet, as these flying devices gain traction, they've presented new challenges, especially around firefighting zones. CalFire, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, is sounding the alarm and asking the public to exercise caution.

In an announcement on Friday, CalFire officials urgently reminded the public about the dangers and consequences of flying drones in areas where are operating. Six interruptions to critical aerial firefighting operations this year have been attributed to drones. To put this into perspective, 2021 had five such suspensions, making it a growing issue with 19 interruptions since 2019.

According to the CalFire statement, “The FAA regularly implements Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) around areas to protect the safety of aircraft participating in firefighting operations.”

The clear directive is that no aircraft, including drones, should enter these zones unless they're associated with firefighting efforts.

Jake Sjolund, staff chief for Tactical Air Operations, didn't mince his words. He emphasized, “The danger of flying drones near wildfires cannot be overstated. Such actions jeopardize lives and have immediate consequences for firefighting agencies' response efforts.”

The repercussions of drones flying near wildfires are immediate and dangerous. Fire response agencies are forced to ground their aircraft, posing significant threats to the safety of firefighters on the ground and nearby communities.

Calfire Airplane Getting Ready For Take Off. Drone Dangers Calfire Warns Public Against Flying Near Wildfires

This grounding can cause fires to spread, escalating the risks further. Violators aren't just getting a slap on the wrist. They can face civil penalties of up to $20,000 and potential criminal prosecution.

In short, while drones offer many benefits in various applications, they can pose significant risks in emergency situations. CalFire urges drone enthusiasts to be responsible, think twice, and always prioritize safety over capturing a snapshot.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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