Drones and firefighting: The real dangers they pose - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Drones and firefighting: The real dangers they pose

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - As lawmakers work to crack down on drones that interfere with firefighting, a local fire captain is talking about the real dangers they can cause while fire crews are working a scene.

The FAA already has regulations in place to restrict the use of drones, but those restrictions often are ignored.

Firefighters cannot ignore the dangers posed by the unmanned aircraft when they are tackling fires like the one that destroyed K sandwiches on Tuesday night.

"It can literally be a matter of life and death," said Capt. Joe Amador with San Diego Fire.

San Diego firefighters boldly battled the flames that consumed most of K Sandwiches, attracting dozens of onlookers. There was also an unwelcome addition of a drone that flew overhead.

"We train heavily for these kinds of instances, and we don't need distractions like drone flying around," said Capt. Amador. 

Last month a drone forced Cal Fire's air tankers to remain grounded during a horrific wildfire at the Cajon Pass, ultimately delaying firefighting efforts.

The issue has fired up state and federal lawmakers who have proposed legislation which would crack down on operations of unmanned aircraft that interfere with firefighting efforts.

Earlier this week, San Diego's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously voted to support bills against drones.

Under that proposed legislation, drone operators who interfere with firefighters' work would face potential fines ranging from $200 to $2,000.

For intentional or reckless acts, that penalty would increase to a $5,000 fine and the possibility of up to six months in jail. 

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