Now that spring wildfire season is here, the Department of Natural Resources reminds recreational drone pilots to ground their gear during wildfires.
Flying a drone over a wildfire isn’t just dangerous, it’s illegal: Federal law prohibits interfering with firefighting operations, and that includes flying a drone over a wildfire.
“Drones can collide with firefighting aircraft, which can cause a serious or fatal injury,” said DNR wildfire section manager Paul Lundgren. “If we see a drone over a wildfire, we have to land our firefighting aircraft until we get the drone out of there—and that costs us precious time in suppressing the wildfire.”
This happened recently during a wildfire in Little Falls: DNR pilots had to land firefighting helicopters because a drone was buzzing overhead.
The reason drones pose such a problem is because they fly at roughly the same altitude as wildfire suppression aircraft—and even a small drone can cause a fire-fighting helicopter to crash if the drone makes contact with the aircraft.
For more information about drones and wildfires, log onto the National Interagency Fire Center.