DRONE Operators Will
* District Attorney * Sheriff
John McMahon, Sheriff, San Bernardino County
Mike Ramos, District Attorney, San Bernardino County
Jody Noiron, San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor,
U.S. Forest Service
Jim Johnstone, Deputy Chief, San Bernardino County Fire
Darren Feldman, Unit Chief, San Bernardino County, Cal Fire
Josie Gonzales, Supervisor, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors
Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, San Bernardino County Sheriff, San
Bernardino County District Attorney, U.S. Forest Service, San Bernardino County
County Fire, Cal Fire notified the Press, Tuesday July 28th of a News Conference was scheduled Wednesday,
July 29, 2015, at 9:30 A.M.
The Conference took place at the San Bernardino Airport - U.S. Forest Airtanker Base. The purpose was to announce rewards for
convictions of illegal drone operators. Hobby
drones have hindered firefighting operations in each major wildfire recently.
29, 2015 ___ Drone operators have been asked repeatedly not to fly their
aircraft during wildfires. But at crucial moments in each of the wildfires
that have broken out in San Bernardino County so far this year, fire-fighting
air tankers had to be diverted away from their targets because of the presence
of small airborne hobby drones.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors decided, asking is no longer
enough. This week created a $75,000
reward fund for the arrest and conviction of anyone who flew any remote
control-operated aircraft and interfered with fire-fighting aircraft during the
recent Lake, Mill 2, and North fires.
"Because fire-fighting planes could
not be used, those fires spread faster and further," Board of
Supervisors Chairman James Ramos said during the news conference today.
"In the most recent fire, the North Fire, we saw cars and trucks burning
on the freeway, we saw homes burn, and we saw families running for their
lives," Chairman Ramos said. "We
want to know who was flying drones, and we want them punished. Someone knows who they are, and there is
$75,000 waiting for them."
Sheriff John McMahon said his department will actively pursue drone operators
in addition to its other vital duties during wildfires. And District Attorney
Mike Ramos warned drone operators that they could and would be prosecuted for
murder if their drones led to the death of a fire-fighting flight crew or
anyone on the ground.
Those with information on anyone who flew drones during those fires are urged
to call WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME. Callers can remain anonymous.
Up to $25,000 is available for each of the three fires. The District Attorney
will ultimately determine who qualifies for the reward money and for how much.
Low-flying air tankers cannot share the sky with drones because the small
aircraft can be sucked into jet engines, causing the engines to fail and the planes
Interfering with fire-fighting operations is a criminal offense, and District
Attorney Ramos said there are several criminal statutes prosecutors can employ
to bring drone operators to justice. State and federal lawmakers are in the
process of creating new laws aimed specifically at those who fly drones during