Monterey County

Drones illegally interfere with Soberanes Fire crews

Drones cause problems for Soberanes Fire crews

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - UPDATE 5:30PM: Firefighters taking on the Soberanes Fire say two drones were discovered this week near the fire. Now they're trying to get the word out, to keep it from happening again. Crews are battling the Soberanes Fire by land and by air. They say when people fly drones into the fire, they get in the way.

On Tuesday, crews say two recreational drones were spotted in the temporary flight restriction zone over the fire. an incident that could have grounded all nearby firefighting aircraft. In this instance, both drones were grounded without incident despite one of them flying within a quarter mile of helicopters. One individual was cited by California State Park Law Enforcement. As a reminder, it's illegal to fly anything, including drones, in a temporary flight restriction zone.

"We have a lot of helicopters on this fire, about 15. When drones get into the area, it's very unsafe. We have to put all our iron on to the ground until we clear the area so don't fly," said Elayn Briggs, PIO for the Soberanes Fire.

This map here from the Federal Aviation Administation shows the temporary flight restriction zone in the red area, which as you can see extends out over the ocean at some parts. If caught flying a drone in the area, violaters could face a fine up to $25,000, face potential criminal prosecution, and potentially have the drone confiscated.

Also, fire officials will be posting no drone flying posters in various areas such as Highway 1, Highway 68, and all fire information boards at state parks. They're hoping that visitors who see a drone with a big cross through it will get the hint.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Fire crews are warning people to keep their drones away from the Soberanes Fire, after two were found illegally flying over the temporary flight restriction area on Tuesday.

Firefighters said one of the incidents was within a quarter of a mile from a location where helicopters were working and one person was cited.

Crews said both drones were spotted by fire personnel and were grounded.

KION will have more on this story tonight.

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