Wildfires regularly rage in California over the hot and dry summer months, but this year firefighters are finding an additional obstacle: drones. Firefighters have been working overtime to put out what has been clocked as the worst wildfire season thus far. But emergency aircrafts are reporting that news drones have been doing more harm then good, getting in the way of those who are trying to put out the fires. During the devastating fire in Los Angeles that torched vehicles on I-15, firefighters reported that drones prevented them from doing their job for nearly a half hour while the fire raged out of control.
This year, the Incident Information System has already registered 17 active wildfires, which are thriving in California’s drought crisis. These fires span 100,000 acres of fires, which are growing by the minute. Combating these fires is an arduous task, requiring special aircrafts that can swiftly dump water and chemicals on the growing blazes.
Drones equipped with cameras have been a new presence on the roaring fire scene, controlled by news agencies and independent owners hoping to sell their clips for cash to news programs across the state and country. But, the remote controlled devices are starting to pose a problem, and possibly preventing the fires from being quenched.
Firefighting aircrafts have reported that they have had to pull back after spotting drones, in fear of crashing into them and losing course. Both helicopters and fire fighting planes regularly shift massive amounts of weight as they dump water and chemicals onto fires, which the pilot must overcorrect for in order to not crash. During this volatile time, drones buzzing about can set the pilot of course, or worse, crash. The problem is so bad that the USDA has put out a PSA asking drones to hold back from entering wildfire scenes, with a slogan “If you fly, we can’t.”
Images ©U.S. Department of Agriculture