Drones Under Fire: Officials Offer $75,000 Reward Leading To Pilots Who Flew Over Wildfire

Jul 30, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

Drones Under Fire: Officials Offer $75,000 Reward Leading To Pilots Who Flew Over Wildfire

Jul 30, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

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If your motto is, “Have drone, will fly over wildfires,” you could find yourself in some hot water.  Earlier this month, we reported how private drones were delaying firefighting efforts in California’s San Bernardino County.  Now, the heads of those drone pilots could be on the proverbial chopping block.

Obviously, people weren’t happy.  Officials, who credit the drones with grounding firefighting aircraft and allowing the fires to spread, are offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to the pilots of the drones.  But, it doesn’t stop there.

YouTube video

Bills have been introduced into California and U.S. legislature that would make it illegal to fly personal drones over wildfires.  In California, the proposed penalty is a misdemeanor charge with up to $2,000 in fines.  Not to be outdone, the U.S. House of Representatives is looking at a bill that would make it a federal offense with up to five years in prison.

Due to current classification, drones are still considered to be an aircraft, and emergency personnel are not authorized to shoot them out of the sky.  However, some are wanting to change that to allow emergency workers to “strategically remove” drones that are interfering with their operations.  (Jeez…if only we had been allowed to eliminate people who were getting in our way during my time in emergency services!)

In other news…

There are times when private drones have actually been an asset to firefighting efforts.  Keith Muratori, a firefighter from Bridgeport, CT has been using his drone to help local departments get a real-time assessment of the blazes they are battling.  In this particular instance, the  Fairfield Fire Department was thankful for the footage Keith was able to stream to their crews on the ground, giving them an accurate picture of where to best direct their efforts and resources.

YouTube video

Drones pose an incredible potential to be either an asset or a hindrance to emergency operations.  If you’re uncertain which category your flight may fall into, I’d suggest you just keep your bird on the ground and pass the marshmallows.

[via Imaging Resource]

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Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

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2 responses to “Drones Under Fire: Officials Offer $75,000 Reward Leading To Pilots Who Flew Over Wildfire”

  1. Will Bartels Avatar
    Will Bartels

    People should be put to justice for interfering with this and causing this fire to lead to the damage it made. However, does anyone else find it interesting they are willing to sped $75k to punish someone for this? Why not use the money for something good…

    1. Rick Avatar
      Rick

      I think the $75K reward is probably being used as an attention getting scare tactic. There won’t likely be a problem with the next fire.