State underscores danger to firefighters and fire suppression efforts caused by drones in wildfire areas

A single drone can completely shut down aerial firefighting efforts

SANTA FE – The state on Wednesday emphasized that flying Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAEs) including drones above active wildfires is a federal crime.

“When people fly drones near wildfires, it leads to the immediate grounding of air support needed for fighting the fire for an entire day,” said Deputy Secretary Kelly Hamilton. “Drones threaten the safety of pilots and firefighters on the ground while preventing us from engaging in fire suppression efforts.”

“Delaying the use of water and fire retardant drops poses a threat to firefighters on the ground, residents and property in nearby communities,” said Laura McCarthy, State Forester. “Don’t be the person whose actions endanger more New Mexicans and their property.”

The state, in partnership and in complete coordination with federal, local, tribal, and other state agencies, is focused on providing support and step-by-step guidance to New Mexico residents, business owners and visitors affected by the recent wildfires.

Affected residents and businesses may call 1-800-432-2080 and select option #4 to connect with someone who will assist you. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

For those who have been affected by the wildfires throughout the state, DHSEM has a dedicated page for resources and fire recovery information: Current active fire information can be found at NM Fire Info | New Mexico Fire Information.


DHSEM works to protect the people of New Mexico and the nation through a comprehensive and coordinated program of mitigating hazards, preparing for emergencies, preventing attacks, and recovering from disasters. The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office is part of DHSEM beginning on July 1, 2021.