Forest fires in California are serious business — between the expected heat coming in the summer, the dry winters and the drought, the state is expected to be in for a long, hot season of smoke and flames.
One of the first large fires of the season is taking place outside of Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains, forcing evacuations and threatening thousands of structures. Dubbed the Lake Fire, airborne operations were cancelled because of two planes spotting a drone flying between them. A second was spotted over Lake Arrowhead.
The airspace over forest fires are designated as no-fly zones because of the air operations involving planes and helicopters and the low altitudes the aircraft are operating in.
Mike Eaton, a forest aviation officer for the San Bernardino National Forest, said between the “difficult terrain, difficult weather, winds,” the drones were a hazard and forced ending dropping fire retardant materials on the fire.
“We had to shut down subsequent missions that could have contained — possibly — that south side of the fire,” he added.