Drones Interfere With Firefighters Battling California Wildfire

San Bernardino National Forest
A firefighting helicopter drops water near Camp Bravo summer camp as firefighters battle the Lake Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest, California June 19, 2015. Two drones interfered with firefighting aircraft this week. David McNew/Reuters

Emergency responders have been working to contain a wildfire spanning more than 24,000 acres in the San Bernardino mountains of California. On the best of days, firefighters have a most difficult job, but this week they were challenged further by some unlikely culprits: two drones

The drones were hovering above the fire and directly interfered with firefighting aircraft being used to drop flame-repellent materials. As a result, the aircraft had to be grounded. 

“Losing the ability to utilize these aircrafts has a serious impact on the success of the firefighters on the ground,” Southern California Interagency Incident Management said in a statement

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection scolded the drone operators: “A collision with a hobby drone could easily result in major damage to firefighting aircraft, injuries to the pilot and crew on board as well as firefighters below, and worse, a midair collision. If you fly, we can’t.” 

The FAA is reportedly investigating the drone interference.