Southern California's San Bernardino County board of supervisors has approved a $75,000 reward fund for the arrest and conviction of anyone who flew a drone and interfered with fire-fighting aircraft during the recent Lake, Mill 2 and North fires.
According to a release from the county administrative office, fire-fighting air tankers had to be diverted away from their targets because of the presence of small, hobby drones in the air at San Bernardino County wildfires.
“Because fire-fighting drones could not be used, those fires spread faster and further,” says John Ramos, board of supervisors chairman.
“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,” he explains. “We want to know who was flying drones, and we want them to be punished.”
Sheriff John McMahon says his department will actively pursue drone operators, and District Attorney Mike Ramos warns drone operators that they can and will be prosecuted for murder if their drones lead to the death of a fire-fighting flight crew or anyone on the ground.
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.