SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — Authorities in San Bernardino County issued a stern warning Wednesday for anyone caught flying an unmanned aerial vehicle over dangerous situations, such as wildfires.
“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 … we will prosecute you for murder,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said.
The warnings come in wake of the North fire in the Cajon Pass, where firefighters had to break off their air attack because of drones.
“If we see one, we have to break off,” explained Capt. Ryan Hales of the U.S. Forest Service, detailing the evasive maneuvers he has to take when and if he sees a drone. Hales pilots a 90,000-pound plane used across the state to battle fires.
“To do an evasive maneuver at that speed, that low, it could present problems,” he said.
Officials also announced a total of $75,000 in rewards for information leading to the capture and conviction of anyone who flew drones above the massive fire, and two other recent fires.
“We don’t want to put our firefighters in harm’s way,” San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said. “A collision between a drone and a firefighting aircraft could be devastating.”
CBS Los Angeles asked McMahon if they would consider shooting a drone out of the sky in a worst-case scenario. He said they would rule nothing out.