Drone operator arrested for flying over California forest fire

Strict regulations have been implemented regarding the use of drones, and while it is legal to operate them as a hobbyist, there are so-called "no fly zones" in which such flights are against the law. While in some cases it is okay to fly a drone, there are situations where it temporarily may not be acceptable — and a wild fire is one such example, as a drone could create risk if firefighters try to use planes to douse the flames. It's for this reason that one hobbyist drone operator was arrested in California.

Per the FAA, drone operators face up to $27,500 fines for flying drones over wildfires. A spokesperson for Cal Fire explained it thusly: "To us, this is no different than parking in front of a fire station. Common sense tells us that it is bad, and we hope that other hobby drone operators see that flying that drone in the path of the aircraft is not acceptable."

That doesn't stop some hobbyists from operating over wildfires, though — more than a dozen reports have surfaced this year of drones over wildfires, and it is likely to only get worse.

For this reason, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is cracking down against errant drones. It has, for the first time, arrested an operator for the alleged operation of a drone over a wildfire, doing so based on a video of a fire said to have been posted on social media. According to WSJ, he was charged with a misdemeanor.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal