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Bill prohibiting flying drones near wildfires passes Senate

FILE: The Utah Senate passed Thursday the latest version of HB126, which restricts flying drones 3 miles from a wildfire without approval of an incident commander.
FILE: The Utah Senate passed Thursday the latest version of HB126, which restricts flying drones 3 miles from a wildfire without approval of an incident commander.
Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate passed Thursday the latest version of HB126, which restricts flying drones 3 miles from a wildfire without approval of an incident commander.

The legislation also creates criminal penalties for the offense, which would be punishable as a class B misdemeanor.

Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, said the impetus for the legislation was an incident in Wasatch County last year when firefighting aircraft had to be grounded because drones were flying in the area.

The bill was substituted to include language that precludes local government from establishing regulations that pre-empt state law. The bill will be sent to the House for further consideration.