California becomes the first state to bust someone for interfering with wildfire operations with a UAV.
The tension between drone enthusiasts and firefighters has reached a new level as California announced its first arrest of a drone hobbyist for impeding the effort to fight fires.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection detained Eric Wamser, 57, after finding a video Wamser posted on social media of a fire he recorded via drone on June 28. Wamser was charged with one misdemeanor for interfering with wildfire operations. He could also face up to $27,500 in civil penalties, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Local news reached out to Wamser, but Wamser offered no official statement.
It's been almost a year since the FAA released its "Wildfires and Drones Don't Mix" press release, and the problem seems to have only grown since then. In 2015 there were twenty drone sightings at wildfires, and there have been at least a dozen this year alone. States are taking increasingly severe stances against the practice. Utah recently called an emergency session of its legislature to discuss the problem.