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Nevada Officials Tell People To Down Their Drones During Fires

David McNew/Reuters/Landov

A helicopter flies near the Lake Fire in California's San Bernardino National Forest on June 19. Firefighters mobilized to combat the wildfire from the air, but they had to be grounded to avoid drones in the area.

State officials want to warn people about the risks posed to firefighting aircraft from unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones.

The Nevada Division of Forestry issued the warning about the use of drones after one of those remotely piloted vehicles interfered with firefighting efforts last month during the Cajon Pass fire on Interstate 15.

“If they fly, we can’t,” said Nevada fire warden Bob Roper said. “It’s a major risk to pilots, ground personnel and aircraft. There may also be civil or criminal consequences that Nevada operators need to know about.”

Often a temporary flight restriction is put in place around wildfires to protect firefighting aircraft. Roper said no one other than the agencies involved in the firefighting effort can fly any manned or unmanned aircraft in an area with flight restrictions.

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta said those flying drones and endangering manned aircraft could be fined $1,000 to $25,000.   

Bob Roper, Nevada Fire Warden

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