Drones Near Fires: Nuisance or Safety Issue?

Drones hovering close to fires: Against the law or just a nuisance?

As San Diego fire crews battled a fire at a Linda Vista Vietnamese sandwich shop Tuesday night, a drone was spotted flying over the blaze.

The San Diego Fire Department sent out a tweet, saying: “All drones need to cease flying.”

It was more of a nuisance than a safety issue, firefighters say. But drones hovering close to fires have caused safety concerns throughout the state recently.

Last month, the aerial attack of two separate fires in San Bernardino County was delayed after drones were spotted in the area.

Drones mainly impact the response to wildfires. Earlier this week, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to support legislation that would impose penalties on those who fly unmanned aircraft near fires.

Firefighters say flying a drone near wildfires is much more dangerous than near house or structure fires. They say they take it on a case-by-case basis whether to try to stop someone from flying a drone.

“On wildland fires, they definitely are a threat because we have aircraft at every wildland fire and if you have any other aircraft at a wildland fire, all the other aircraft operations have to shut down,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Mike Finnerty.

In terms of structure fires, San Diego firefighters hope people will be respectful and refrain from flying drones near fires.

Contact Us