Drone Gets Remotely Grounded Upon Nearing Site of Maui Fire Origin, Pilot Quickly Visited by Government Officials


A licensed drone operator who said he was filming the suspected origin of wildfires that killed at least 115 people in Hawaii told a Fox News host that his drone was grounded and he was visited by federal agents.

That is according to network host Will Cain, who relayed the strange story Monday evening.

In a thread on X, the platform formerly called Twitter, Cain shared the story of Davin Phelps, who said he was prohibited from filming the suspected area where fires started on Maui two weeks ago.

Phelps offered Cain a video of the community of Lahaina, which was devastated by fire. A clip from the drone operator shows buildings that have largely been reduced to ashes.

The aerial photographer also shared with him a number of still images.

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Cain then told Phelps’ peculiar story.

“I don’t want to feed ridiculous conspiracies but all I can do is tell you the truth,” he said in his post. “I just spoke to a videographer from Lahaina. Davin Phelps. He’s a licensed drone pilot. He’s been flying over Lahaina for the past week. And he has stunning and haunting images of Lahaina.”

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“Davin says he was hired by an attorney to fly his drone over the suspected area where the fire started,” Cain said in a follow-up post.

“There is a no-fly zone over Lahaina. But as you can see from the footage that hasn’t stopped him from getting images of Lahaina Town. But it was a different experience at the fires origin.”

He then shared how Phelps said he was visited by law enforcement officers after his drone veered into the no-fly zone before he called for more transparency from the government.

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“Apparently licensed drone pilots fly through an app coordinated with the FAA,” Cain posted. “That app can deny you permission to fly and remotely ground your drone. It’s very rare. But when Phelps got to the suspected fire origin area he was denied flight and grounded.”

Cain continued, “Then he says two government officials (he doesn’t remember what agency) quickly visited him, asking for his license, and ran him off the Lahaina Intermediate School parking lot where he attempted to launch.”

The Fox News host concluded, “So why the secrecy in this area? Liability? Accountability? Why no clarity on the origins and cause of the fire?”

ABC News reported one theory is that the fires were sparked by downed power lines. However, there are no clear answers, and many are speculating about the blazes and their origin.

Hundreds of people are still missing while recovery efforts continue.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.