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Man cited for flying drone above lava disaster area

HONOLULU (KHON2) - A California man was cited by the state for flying a drone above an active lava flow.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says an officer was checking barricades in Nanawale Estates when he spotted a red light in the sky.

The officer then saw Huawen Wu, 38, flying a drone in a restricted area.

The state says Wu was on Nanawale Boulevard and then took Forest Road where he allegedly set up his drone to get aerial photography of an active lava flow.

The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating.

At the request of Hawaii County, the FAA placed a temporary flight restriction over a five mile radius of Leilani Estates on May 8.  

The county is in the process of requesting an expansion of the temporary flight restriction based on continued volcanic activity in the area. 

The state says unpermitted drones can interfere with emergency aircraft operations.

Only the U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaii Electric Light Company and UH Hilo are permitted to operate drones above the lava disaster area. 

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