By Jacqueline Quynh

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s happened before and it’s happening again — drones interfering with wildland fire operations. Just last week during the East Plum Fire aircrafts had to halt because of an unauthorized drone.  

CBS4 talked with Vic Moss, an FAA Drone Pro. He told said over the past year there have been 100 documented cases of drones in the area of wildfires across the country.

“The issue is that the air support can’t fly when there’s a drone in the air, there’s always that possibility of collision and people just don’t understand that they want to go up and get a cool photograph or cool video of the fire and that’s just not a good idea,” Moss said.

He further explained that it’s difficult for an aircraft to dodge a drone. Despite their size, something as small as a bird could cause a plane to crash.

“They have to worry about whether if they see a drone are they going to hit it, those ladies and gentlemen are flying so low to the ground that they have to have 100 percent concentration or else catastrophe, and if they have to worry about a drone, then we’re affecting them,” he said.

As a good rule of thumb, Moss reminds drone pilots that if there’s smoke visible, or there’s a strong smell of it in the area, check before launching a drone. The FAA even has an app called B4UFly.  

In addition to potentially setting fire crews back from saving homes and or structures, anyone found in violation of temporary flight restrictions could be fined up to $1,000 and face jail time.

Jacqueline Quynh

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