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.
Itâ€™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 â€œUnmanned Aircraft Systemsâ€ 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.”
â€œIf you fly we canâ€™t.â€
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.