Drones and Wildfires: A Deadly Combination
Dry conditions in northern Minnesota mean some areas are at increased risk for wildfire. If one happens, the DNR wants recreational drone pilots to remember: ground your gear—because if you fly, we can’t.
“Drones and fires do not mix,” says DNR Assistant Wildfire Aviation Supervisor Matt Woodwick. “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 last spring 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.
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.
For more information about drones and wildfires, log onto the National Interagency Fire Center at www.nifc.gov.