Montana law enforcement officials have seized a drone that shut down airtanker flights Saturday over the Fritz fire, burning outside of Billings.
The incident comes less than a month after the Federal Aviation Administration sent a mass email to all people who have drones registered with agency asking that they not fly during wildfires.
The email warned that “drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 and possible criminal prosecution.”
The Fritz fire has destroyed at least one home and burned more than 1,000 acres, according to local media reports. As of Sunday, local media said it was at 40 percent containment.
The fire ignited Friday evening, and that night a private drone was spotted flying in the area. The Billings-Gazette reported law enforcement officials took possession of the drone on Friday.
It appears that flight operations were shut down for a half-an-hour.
Drones, like other aircraft, are subject to temporary flight restrictions put in place during a wildfire, according to information from the National Fire Information Center.
“Individuals who are determined to have interfered with wildfire suppression efforts may be subject to civil penalties and potentially criminal prosecution.”