5 drones seen at wildfire in California, 2 reportedly chased firefighting aircraft

Drones are increasingly becoming a very serious problem at fires in California. On Friday, July 17, five were reported near the North Fire — the “carmegeddon” fire that burned 22 vehicles trapped on Interstate 15 in southern California. Two drones, according to an agency spokesperson, actually gave chase to firefighting aircraft.

Below are excerpts from an article at NBC Los Angeles:

…All air units not only pulled back from the fire because of the drones, but all five were forced to touch back down at the airport in San Bernardino after jettisoning their loads, John Miller of the U.S. Forest Service said.

Five drones were initially spotted over the fire, which consumed five homes and more than a dozen cars as motorists frantically fled on foot through the Cajon Pass.

Two drones actually gave chase to air units, and the incident delayed response by about 15 to 20 minutes, according to Battalion Chief Marc Peebles of San Bernardino County Fire Department.

When asked if the delay contributed to the fire jumping the 15 Freeway, Peebles said “It definitely contributed to it.”

6 thoughts on “5 drones seen at wildfire in California, 2 reportedly chased firefighting aircraft”

  1. Channeling my inner Ornbaum -I’d say shoot the $%^* down.

    Sooner or later someone is going to be injured of killed by
    the inappropriate use of a drone. One in an intake of an aircraft,
    or helicopter, attack is called off due to a drone, and the fire escapes and
    overruns firefighters or civilians.
    ” Time for a little premeditated self defense.”-unk.

  2. well i myself would love to have a drone to play with..but because im a nice guy i know i would not use it to film fires or MVAs,or anything else where someone could be hurt or is hurt..but to fly it out over the edge of a cliff up in the high Sierra Nevadas to see the sexiness of those mountains….yaknow?

    but to this fire,,22 cars lost,5 homes?….well if one of those homes was mine,and it was proven that the drone delayed air attack …..well when i found that operator..or all 5 of them…they would all have very serious injuries to theyre knee caps…….

  3. The illicit use of drones in what should rightfully be “restricted airspace” is rapidly becoming a national problem the our Legislators at the State and National levels refuse to address.
    Here in Montana, Representative Willis Curdy (a retired USFS SJ and Pilot) introduced a Bill to restrict the use of drones around emergency incidents; he was supported by Corrections folks who wanted to include prisons. The response of our Tea Party dominated House of Reps “table” the proposal – don’t even let it come to a vote. Don’t want to restrict someone’s rights!
    Wrong answer: when the inevitable fatality occurs, there will be a “s**t-storm” of “I told you so’s” and irresponsible law-makers running for cover!
    Let’s resurrect the idea of A-10 lead planes that are armed with air-to-air missiles …..!

    1. I agree – the area needs to be a ‘no fly zone’ over an emergency area EXCEPT for emergency vehicles.

  4. If agencies want the drones out of the way they could consider jamming the video link frequencies. If drone operators know their video isn’t going to work around a fire area, they won’t have a reason to fly in the area. Same goes for drone control frequencies.

    1. Good idea, but …..on IA, things move really fast, and tasking those kinds of jamming/cramming freqs takes skills and time, not to mention the legal issues.

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