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Drone tip line aims to curtail amateur flights in fire zones

A U.S. Forest Service poster cites the danger of amateur drones flying in firefighting zones.
A U.S. Forest Service poster cites the danger of amateur drones flying in firefighting zones. U.S. Department of Agriculture

A tip line has been set up to report drones being flown in wildland fire zones.

The toll-free tip line, similar to a crime tip line, is designed to gather information about amateurs flying drones in fire zones. Drones at times have forced officials in California to ground aerial firefighting out of fear of possible midair collisions.

Tipsters can call 844-376-6311.

The tip line is not for reporting emergencies. If a drone is observed dangerously flying at an active disaster or emergency, call 911.

“Most drone pilots don’t necessarily intend to interfere, but those who do put us all at great risk of a midair collision with our first responders, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the state Office of Emergency Services.

More than a dozen hobby drones have interfered with or hampered firefighting this year, according to Cal Fire.

“When hobby drone operators fly in fire zones, we can’t” said Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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