Assemblyman Jay Obernolte in the State Assembly 

Sacramento, California

Assemblyman Jay Obernolte represents the 33rd Assembly District, which includes the San Bernardino County communities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Baker, Barstow, Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Big River, Crestline, Fort Irwin, Hesperia, Johnson Valley, Lake Arrowhead, Lenwood, Lucerne Valley, Needles, Oak Hills, Phelan, Running Springs, Silver Lakes, Trona, Twentynine Palms Base, Twin Peaks and Victorville.


  Assemblyman Obernolte

  on Recent Wildfires 

Bill will impose civil penalties for operating unmanned aircraft 

in forest fire areas


 Today (Tuesday July 21st), Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) from the Hesperia Field Office,  released the following statement about the recent outbreak of fires in San Bernardino County:

“The recent string of wildfires in San Bernardino County, including the Lake Fire and North Fire, has revealed several unsettling trends that have prevented fire fighters from doing their jobs and harmed members of the public.

“First, the unauthorized use of drones over these fires forced aerial firefighting activity to be suspended on several occasions. This irresponsible behavior hampers the ability of fire crews to swiftly and safely respond to emergencies. Capturing video footage of a wildfire is not worth grounding our emergency aircraft and risking the lives of the dedicated firefighters and public safety officers who operate them. Grounding emergency aircraft also takes away valuable resources from the firefighters on the ground and hampers their efforts to fight the fire.

It is for these reasons that I am co-authoring SB 167, a bill that would impose civil penalties for operating an unmanned aircraft in the vicinity of a forest fire, as well as criminal penalties for doing so intentionally.

“In addition, motorists on Interstate 15 who were forced to abandon their vehicles due to the North Fire were later charged as much as $1,600 by tow truck operators to retrieve their vehicles. This form of price gouging is unfair and unwarranted, and I am taking steps to rectify the situation.

If you are one of the motorists affected by this price gouging scheme or believe you were charged unjustifiably high rates, please call the California Highway Patrol’s Inland Division at (909) 806-2486 or my District office at (760) 244-5277 and file a report.

The California Highway Patrol has assured my office they will investigate every claim. To help stop this practice, I recently supported AB 1222 which will increase penalties on ‘bandit tow trucks’, and I am also exploring possible legislation regarding the rates authorized for tow truck operators who contract with the CHP to prevent this from recurring in the future.

“Finally, I want to say thank you to the incredibly hardworking men and women who are risking their lives to protect the public from harm. I recently visited the base-camp at the height of the Lake Fire and was astounded at the remarkable commitment and valor displayed by our local firefighters. We are fortunate to have such dedicated professionals working day-in and day-out to ensure our safety.”