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Flying drones over wildfires is dangerous, illegal, Minnesota DNR says

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Flying a drone can be a lot of fun — but it can be downright dangerous during a wildfire, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Most people wouldn’t dream of driving their car in front of a fire engine that’s responding to a fire,” said Casey McCoy, the DNR’s fire prevention supervisor. “Flying your drone during a wildfire is just as reckless: we have to ground our planes until the drone gets out of the way, and that slows down our ability to fight the fire.”

This happened last year during a wildfire in Little Falls, Minn.: DNR pilots had to land firefighting helicopters because a drone was buzzing overhead. Drones fly at roughly the same altitude as wildfire suppression aircraft.

Federal law prohibits interfering with firefighting operations, and that includes flying a drone over a wildfire.

To protect firefighting aircraft, temporary flight restrictions may extend over a 5-mile radius of a wildfire. Even if temporary flight restrictions are not in place, people will be penalized if their drone is caught near a wildfire.

For more information about drones and wildfires, log onto the National Interagency Fire Center website at

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