NC officials: Flying drones near wildfires is dangerous and illegal
Officials are reminding the public that flying drones near wildfires is not only dangerous but illegal. State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a news release Wednesday that drones can interfere with firefighting efforts by compromising the safety of forest service pilots and ground crews. Aerial wildfire operations are suspended when a drone is spotted in an effort to avoid collisions, impeding firefighting operations and allowing the wildfire to grow larger. The release also said drones can also pose a risk to responders on the ground if they malfunction. Individuals can face fines of up to $25,000 and criminal prosecution for flying drones near wildfires. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than 170 drone incursions took place between 2015 and 2020.