As aerial firefighters were attempting to make retardant drops on the Lava Fire near Weed, California on Saturday, an unauthorized drone halted their crucial operations. It’s a lesson on how the public can help firefighters during their difficult job of fighting wildfires – sometimes that means staying out of the way.
Four large air tankers working around the clock to drop retardant on the wildfire were briefly halted by a drone over the area on Saturday. While officials were able to quickly mitigate the situation, the incident flashes a warning signal to potential drone users that their actions could cause costly damage and result in criminal charges.
It’s a month earlier than last year and #MAFFS is already back out there supporting U.S Forest Service and partner agencies with wildfires. The @146AirliftWing has been dropping near Weed on the Lava fire. #calguard #wildfires #alwaysreadyalwaysthere pic.twitter.com/Dcm3uS5grf— The California National Guard (@CalGuard) June 27, 2021
“Federal, state, and local wildland fire management agencies and the Federal Aviation Administration urge members of the public not to fly “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” or drones over or near wildfires,” said the U.S. Forest Service in a statement “Unauthorized drone flights pose serious risks to firefighter and public safety and the effectiveness of wildfire suppression operations.”
“If you fly we can’t.”
As of Saturday morning, the Lava Fire sits at 220 acres with 25 percent containment. The fire is approximately 3.5 miles north of Weed.