Drones Grounded Aerial Crews Battling Fast-Growing Maria Fire
As flames rapidly spread along a hillside in Santa Paula on Thursday night, firefighters battling the blaze were faced with a potentially perilous dilemma: ground night-flying helicopters working to contain the growing fire or risk an aerial collision with a thrill-seeking drone.
A Ventura County Fire Department helicopter pilot radioed in at 3:19 a.m. that a drone had been spotted flying above the flames, apparently trying to take a photograph or video of the scene below. Air operations were immediately stopped for at least 45 minutes until the sky was clear.
But at 4:05 a.m., another drone sighting occurred.
The aerial fight against the wildfire was upended for another hour while at least two helicopters with night-flying capabilities that had been deployed to help contain the Maria fire were grounded. Meanwhile, the blaze that broke out atop South Mountain, just south of Santa Paula, shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, marched toward the small agricultural towns of Somis and Saticoy.
Read the full story on LATimes.com.