The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that drone users who fly near wildfires ‘could get someone killed’.
The FAA and U.S wildland fire agency described how some drones have caused firefighting aircrafts to ground due to them being flown in an unauthorised flight zone.
The authorities said that this causes serious risk to first responders and anyone else in and around the fire.
Authorised drone missions by the proper authorities can yield valuable information to firefighters by detecting hotspots, charting a fire’s spread and understanding the progress in controlling a blaze.
Despite this, when an unauthorised drone is spotted, they may have to stop all helicopter and airplane operations.
FAA acting administrator, Dan Elwell, said: “If you own a drone, do not fly near or over a wildfire. It’s against the law, and firefighting aircraft could be grounded, disrupting time-critical firefighting efforts. Your hobby is not worth another person’s life.”
If unauthorised drone operations interfere with wildfire suppression, law enforcement, or emergency response efforts, those drone operators could face civil penalties that exceed $20,000 and potential criminal prosecution.