San Diego Supervisors Support Penalties for Drone Users During Wildfires

San Diego County supervisors on Tuesday said they support federal legislation that would penalize those who fly drones near firefighting efforts.

The board of supervisors voted unanimously to support state and federal bills in the works that would impose fines and jail time to those who fly the unmanned aircraft too close to wildfires.

“Seconds count when it comes to fighting a fire. And any interference in getting those fires out… those irresponsible individuals should be penalized,” San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.

SB167 would increase fines and make jail time possible for drone use that interferes with firefighting efforts. If passed, violators would be fined several thousand dollars and could serve up to six months in jail.

Another bill in the works is headed by Republican Sen. Ted Gaines of El Dorado and Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Glendale. SB168 would grant immunity to emergency responders who damage drones during firefighting or rescue operations.

The legislation came after firefighters say efforts to put out a large wildfire on Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County last month were hampered by five drones being flown in the area.

The 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.

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