California Bill Lets on-the-Job Firefighters Take Out Drones

Two lawmakers are taking steps to stop drones from interfering in firefighting efforts after several incidents in California.

One bill, SB167, would increase fines and make jail time possible for drone use that interferes with firefighting efforts.

And on Monday, Republican Sen. Ted Gaines of El Dorado and Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Glendale also announced SB168, which would grant immunity to emergency responders who damage drones during firefighting or rescue operations.

It comes after firefighters say efforts to put out a large wildfire on Interstate 15 last week were hampered by five drones being flown in the area.

Friday's blaze destroyed 20 vehicles on the freeway linking Southern California and Las Vegas. It spread to other communities and has since burned more homes and vehicles.

In June, a Southwest Airlines pilot at Oakland International Airport said he saw a 5-foot long drone flying in restricted airspace.

"Ideally the FAA would need to be able to dispatch an emergency signal for a specific GPS location where all drones would receive the information and ground himself safely," said Sahand Barati, an Oakland resident and president of the International Drone Racing Association.

Barati said the FAA and drone manufacturers need to work together.

NBC Bay Area's Terry McSweeney contributed to this report.

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