On Friday, a wildfire northeast of Los Angeles spread so quickly that it jumped onto I-15 during gridlock, forcing passengers to flee as the flames engulfed their vehicles. But amid the chaos, helicopters were grounded for 20 minutes due to firefighting’s most futuristic nuisance—drones.
In an incident overview, the US Forest Service wrote that “An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS or drone) halted tanker operations for about 25 minutes on Friday afternoon, but operations soon resumed.” CNN reports that there were actually five drones in the airspace above the fire, according to a San Bernardino County Fire spokesperson they spoke to.
Eric Sherwin of the San Bernardino County Fire Department told CNN, “Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities to report, but the 15 to 20 minutes that those helicopters were grounded meant that 15 to 20 minutes were lost that could have led to another water drop cycle, and that would have created a much safer environment and we would not have seen as many citizens running for their lives.”
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