57-year-old Eric Wasser was trying to capture video and photos of a wildfire north of Sacramento by flying a drone over the area, last month.
Perhaps what he didn’t know was that it would land him in jail since interfering with firefighting operations is against the law.
“Every minute we couldn’t fly our aircraft because of this drone, the fire was able to grow and do more damage,” Chief George Morris III told the LA Times. The fire burned over 5,000 acres in “steep, heavily forested canyons.” Hundreds of residents in Placer and El Dorado counties had to evacuate their homes as the flames spread.
When the Trailhead fire broke out late last month, officials say, they had to make as many critical air drops as they could before sunset and Wasser interfered with that effort.
The drone’s presence forced authorities to ground all aircraft for 30 minutes that evening – the Times reported.
A spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Wasser may also face federal prosecution for violating restricted air space. Officials with the Dept. also said this is the first time anyone has ever been arrested in the state over a drone’s interference with firefighting.
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