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Americans find fantastic new use for drones – interfering with firefighting

Please move, so we can dump this water. In your own time

By Alexander J Martin, 20 Jul 2015

A blaze in southern California, which has already destroyed several cars and homes, has added another tool to its arsenal of dangers: bystanders' drones.

NBC LA reports that drones taking footage of the blaze prevented the state's firefighting air units from getting involved in the firefighting effort, due to fears of collisions.

The fire, now named the North Fire, is afflicted homes near Interstate 15, which leads to Las Vegas.

A drone could have struck one of the firefighters' aircraft, which "could go down, killing the firefighters in the air", complained John Miller of the US Forest Service.

”This is serious to us,” added Miller. “It's a serious life threat, not only to our firefighters in the air, but when we look at the vehicles that were overrun by fire, it was definitely a threat to the motorists on Interstate 15.”

Up to five drones were reportedly spotted over the blaze, which NBC stated had taken "five homes and more than a dozen cars" on Friday.

At the time of writing, the fire has managed to destroy more than 50 vehicles and at least eight homes, according to the Incident Information System (IIS).

The IIS confirms that tanker operations were halted for almost half an hour on Friday afternoon, explaining that "when a hobby drone is flown into a fire area, incident commanders have no choice but to suspend air operations and ground aircraft until the drone is removed".

"On most wildfires, an FAA Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is put into effect and any private aircraft or drone that violates the TFR could face serious criminal charges," the IIS adds.

At the time of writing, the blaze was reported to be approximately 4,250 acres in size, and is now 75 per cent contained. ®

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