Flying a Drone Near Arizona Wildfire? Think Again!

Wildcat Fire Rages On

The Wildcat Fire, which started near Bartlett Lake in the Tonto National Forest on May 18, has burned over 14,000 acres. Currently, it's 36% contained. Fire crews, engines, and helicopters are working tirelessly to control the blaze, reports Fox 10 Phoenix.

Drones Are a No-Go

As season intensifies, officials are warning against flying drones near fires. Flying drones in these areas isn't just frowned upon—it's prohibited. Drones can disrupt firefighting operations and put lives at risk.

Interference Causes Delays

The U.S. Forestry Service is clear: drones near wildfires can halt operations.

“Once a drone is spotted, everything has to come to a halt. Everything has to go back to the airports,” said Brad Widhalm from the U.S. in the Tonto National Forest.

Crucial Firefighting Tools

Fire crews rely on their own drones to detect hot spots and keep personnel safe.

“We have no more support for the . So they're out there in the brush and stuff like that on their own,” Widhalm explained.

Without these tools, the effectiveness of the firefighting efforts is significantly reduced.

Legal Consequences

Flying a drone near a wildfire is not only dangerous but illegal. Offenders can face fines exceeding $25,000 and criminal prosecution.

DroneXL's Take

The message is clear: flying drones near wildfires is a serious offense with severe consequences. While drones can offer incredible benefits in various fields, their misuse during critical situations like wildfires can jeopardize lives and hinder essential operations. Always prioritize safety and legality when operating drones.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, 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 @ or @hayekesteloo.

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