Until recently Captain Ryan Hales never worried about unmanned aerial vehicles - also known as drones. But, now, as he flies over wildfires to drop chemical retardant, he not only worries about watching for other aircraft, birds and thick drifting smoke, he thinks about the drones that might be out there. Another risk he describes as "huge" and worrisome.
San Bernardino County officials are cracking down on illegal drone operations. Supervisors are offering a hefty $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who interrupted firefighting operations by flying drones during the North, Mill 2 and Lake fires.
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Supervisor James Ramos says, "We have asked drone operators to keep their drones away from the fires. They have ignored us. They know their drones are putting lives at risk."
When asked about shooting down drones Sheriff John McMahon says it depends on the altitude and position of the craft. "It's a possibility," he adds.
Meanwhile, District Attorney Mike Ramos is blunt when he says to drone operators, "I just want you to know that if an intentional act of a drone was to cause one of these wonderful men and women fighting fires to go down and be injured or worse scenario killed... or another civilian on the ground .. we will prosecute you for murder."