Drones and wildfires don't mix, stay grounded

Posted at 3:53 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 18:16:52-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — In the age of technology, people are able to do things they never thought they could before. But that doesn't always make it right, or safe.

With wildfires raging across the U.S. in multiple states, those looking to share how the destruction has devastated lands may be tempted to go above and beyond to get a photo, and we don't mean diving into the flames.

Instead, with the rise of drone photography, people have used drones to capture amazing views of the blazes. This has become so frequent that the Federal Aviation Administration in 2018 issued a warning: if you fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire, you could get someone killed.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, at least 15 public drone incursions have taken place in 2020. At least 13 aerial firefighting operations nationwide have been shut down in 2020 due to public drones in the area. Six of those were in California.

“It’s against the law, and firefighting aircraft could be grounded, disrupting time-critical firefighting efforts. Your hobby is not worth another person’s life," said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell.

If unauthorized drone operations interfere with wildfire suppression, law enforcement, or emergency response efforts, those drone operators could face civil penalties that exceed $20,000 and potential criminal prosecution.

Anyone who witnesses or has information about an unauthorized drone flight over or near a wildfire should immediately contact local law enforcement.


Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate.

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist:

  • Face masks or coverings
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Prescriptions or special medications
  • Change of clothing
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
  • Don’t forget pet food and water!

Items to take if time allows:

  • Easily carried valuables
  • Family photos and other irreplaceable items
  • Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
  • Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.

Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night.