Washington, DC - There are lots of great places to fly your drones, but over or near a wildfire isn’t one of them. In fact, drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 and possible criminal prosecution.
Here’s why it’s important: Aerial firefighting aircraft, such as airtankers and helicopters, fly at very low altitudes, just a couple hundred feet above the ground and in the same airspace as hobby and recreational drones. This creates the potential for a mid-air collision that could seriously injure or kill wildland firefighters in the air or on the ground.
As a result of unlawful drone operations near fires this year, fire managers have temporarily grounded all aerial firefighting aircraft on several occasions for safety reasons. Shutting down firefighting operations could cause wildfires to become larger and can threaten lives, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources.