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CAL FIRE Says Drones Halt Firefighting Efforts

Cynthia Hotujec-Kantner / AP / File
 

Cynthia Hotujec-Kantner / AP / File

Emergency fire responders say remote-controlled flying “drones” are increasingly impeding efforts to fight wild fires.

Federal and state officials report civilians are flying model aircraft, quadcopters and other unmanned devices over fires to get a look at them.

Dave Teter of CAL FIRE says that creates a hazard and forces out fire fighters’ planes. And, he says it’s happened twice this week alone, while crews fought the Trailhead Fire in the El Dorado National Forest—first on Tuesday.

"The aircraft were grounded and removed from the fire traffic area for more than 30 minutes. Just on Thursday a second drone intrusion occurred on the Trailhead Fire, requiring the grounding of aircraft for nearly an hour," says Teter.

CAL FIRE reports there were 20 separate incidents last year when civilian drones were spotted while crews were fighting wild fires in the west.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have increased penalties for civilians flying drones over fires.