CA offers $75,000 to catch firefighter-interrupting drone pilots

Live fire demostration

Officials in California's San Bernardino County are tired of drones grounding their airborne firefighting efforts, that's why they've decided to take action. They're now offering a total of $75,000 in rewards to catch the pilots who flew their UAVs over three different forest fires -- they're allotting $25,000 in rewards for each one -- that took place these past months. During the latest one, which happened this mid-July, aerial firefighters reportedly came across five hobby drones flying over the affected areas that ultimately forced them to land. The 20-minute delay those drones caused was apparently enough for the flames to spread to the Interstate 15 freeway, burning cars in the process.

Officials plan to set up a hotline, and they're hoping the money's enough to entice people to call and speak up about what they know. UAVs are considered a hazard for planes and choppers, that's why aerial firefighters can't do their jobs while they're flying around. Authorities aren't allowed to shoot them down either, though a new bill submitted by California lawmakers wants to give first responders the right to disable drones that hamper their efforts.

[Image credit: Official U.S. Air Force/Flickr]