MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As concern over wildfires is ramping up in Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources has a message for drone pilots: Do not fly over or near wildfires.

The DNR issued a statement Tuesday, saying that flying drones over wildfires is illegal under federal law, and pilots can be penalized, even if flight restrictions over a wildfire aren’t in place.

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Casey McCoy, the DNR’s fire prevention supervisor, says that drones threaten firefighting aircraft, which could crash if they collide with a drone.

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“Most people wouldn’t dream of driving their car in front of a fire engine that’s responding to a fire,” McCoy said, in a statement. “Flying your drone during a wildfire is just as reckless: we have to ground our planes until the drone gets out of the way, and that slows down our ability to fight the fire.”

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According to the DNR, crews had to ground firefighting aircraft last year while battling a wildfire near Little Falls.