‘No-Fly Zone’ over Sand Fire; Drone Catches Cal Fire’s Attention

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AMADOR COUNTY—

Helicopters and airplanes are crucial assets for getting a handle on the Sand Fire. But Sunday, they had unwelcome company in the air- a  civilian drone, shooting video.

Although the rules governing this are still unclear, and no firefighting aircraft were diverted, CalFire says it was a situation that had to be dealt with.

“When you’re dealing with something like, that you’re dealing with our aircraft safety. The El Dorado County Sheriff came out and took care of the situation, identify the individual and his craft,” said Cal Fire Spokesman Scott McLean.

A temporary air space restriction  was created over the Sand Fire on Saturday. According to the order, “only relief aircraft operations under direction of Cal Fire Amador El Dorado unit are authorized in the airspace” that spans about 5 square miles. The restricted airspace order started Saturday evening, with the stated reason “to provide a safe environment for fire fighting”.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Cal Fire reported the drone incident to the FAA. The Federal Aviation Administration will now interview the drone operator.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Doug Darnell has all the keys. Amid evacuations, he’s a resident of Sand Ridge Road who stayed behind to keep an eye on his home and the homes of his neighbors. Unfortunately one of those, a home belonging to a neighbor, was destroyed.

“It’s so sad’. She put a lot of time and effort into this house,” Darnell said.

That home is one of 15 burnt down by the Sand Fire.

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