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.
Casey McCoy, the DNR’s fire prevention supervisor, says that drones threaten firefighting aircraft, which could crash if they collide with a drone.
“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.”
According to the DNR, crews had to ground firefighting aircraft last year while battling a wildfire near Little Falls.