Drones and wildfires do not mix

Posted at 5:50 PM, Jun 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 20:57:54-04

Drones and wildfires do not mix. That's the message fire managers across the nation have for the public after crews in California lost precious time this week due to interference.

With the dry, wildfire season upon us, already this year there have been 13 instances of drones interfering with fire suppression efforts nationwide.

The fight against the "Trailhead Wildfire" in California that threatens homes experienced major setbacks this week.

A hobby drone caused for eight air tankers to be grounded making it impossible to drop retardant on the fire burning in rugged, steep terrain. 

It's a problem they're hoping to gain an upper hand on by way of public service announcements.

Drones haven't been a problem in Idaho with regards to wildfires but fire managers want to use the "Trailhead Wildfire" as an example of what not to do.

Drones anywhere near a wildfire, flying in the same low air space, could cause a crash.

"If it collides with a helicopter or an air tanker, it can cause that helicopter or air tanker to crash and that can be a fatal accident," said Jessica Gardetto, spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center.

An air plane crash could also put the lives of firefighters on the ground at risk.

"We understand people are curious but flying a drone near a wildfire is just not worth the risk, you're risking the lives of firefighters and the lives of pilots," Gardetto said.

In the event of a wildfire, the Federal Aviation Administration will put a temporary flight restriction in place.

Drone operators who violate those orders could face a hefty fine.