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Fewer Illegal Drone Flights Reported During 416 Fire Than In Other Incidents

Fire officials’ campaign to discourage people from flying drones over the 416 fire burning north of Durango appears to be working. That’s according to Anne Janik with the U.S. Forest Service. She tells KSJD several illegal drone flights were reported during first day of the fire, but that number has dropped in subsequent days. She says information campaigns by the Forest Service and comments by La Plata County officials at public meetings have likely had an impact on people’s behavior.

Drones are dangerous to aircraft and have interfered with firefighting during other incidents, including one near Durango last year. Janik says flying a drone near a wildfire is a violation of federal law and can carry strict penalties. She some county sheriffs have even shot drones down in the past.  

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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