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Tracking #: 15-0458
Date Submitted: 7/18/2015 12:24:00 PM
Date:  7/17/2015 Local Time:  1500 Injuries:  No Damage:  No
Location:  North Fire State:  California
Operational Control:  Forest Service (USFS) > Region 05 Pacific Southwest Region > San Bernardino NF
Type: Fire, Air Attack Other:
Procurement: Exclusive use contract Other:
Persons Onboard: 2 Special Use:  No Hazardous Materials: 
Departure Point: SBD Destination:  North Fire
Manufacturer:  Aero Commander Model:  690

Air Incursion: While responding to the fire as Air Attack shortly after reporting 4-5 acres rapid rate of spread with spotting, deciding to go direct on the Left Flank with Bravo -XX, Tanker -XX, Tanker YYY, Helitanker- XXX and Helicopter-XXX. At that time AA pilot spotted a medium sized RC aircraft/drone north of the fire 1 mile heading south to the fire behind Bravo-XX with tankers in tow. All aviation resources were then diverted to the east of the fire until the drone was clear. Shortly after with immediate life threat on the 15 fwy {several vehicles on fire} I decided to have Helicopter-XXX proceed with high caution to where the drone operators were spotted landing and make contact with them on the FS 3N24 road. While on final to land on the road, the helicopterís rotor wash crashed all 3 RC planes/drones. LEO was shortly behind and soon made contact with the operators. There were also 2 other RC/Drones that interfered with the lead plane by pursuing the LP at 6 o`clock. Both these RC/Drones left the area. All aircraft were then returned to the fire to begin their suppression efforts. The delay of 20 mins in aircraft was critical in the growth of the fire, with the heavy aviation response on scene of the fire when the drones interference, it is without doubt this fire could have been stopped at less than 100 acres with minimal loss to property. Forest Service LEOís detained the operators for questioning.

Once the drones were confirmed on the ground, AA re-engaged aerial suppression efforts on the north side. RASM: Regional, FAA and ARTCC were notified. I will be in contact with Riverside FSDO {enforcing agency} on Monday to ensure coordination between the FSDO and LEI is occurring in order to identify enforcement options. Will update when more information is available. RASM: Spoke with LEI they never found the RC/drone operators, they had all left the area by the time LEI arrived on scene.

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