Mystery Drone Seen Flying Near Warehouse Fire Monday in West End

Washington Times reports local resident saw, photographed drone that was not part of any official response to warehouse fire.

Smoke from Monday's warehouse fire on Van Dorn Street. Photo by Jenn Hatstat
Smoke from Monday's warehouse fire on Van Dorn Street. Photo by Jenn Hatstat
As if a six-alarm fire weren't news enough, now comes word that a mystery drone — likely flown by a local hobbyist — was seen hovering Monday near the blaze that engulfed a West End warehouse, according to a report by the Washington Times newspaper.

The newspaper checked with officials from Alexandria and Fairfax County who said they had no idea who the drone belonged to.

A local resident saw the drone near the Red Lobster restaurant at 555 Van Dorn near the warehouse and photographed it. The photo was published in The Washington Times.

The Federal Aviation Administration mandates that drones cannot fly higher than 400 feet off the ground, they must remain within the operator's sight and cannot be used for commercial purposes, the newspaper reported.

Arlington County and the Department of Defense are cleared by the FAA to use drones, according to a recent report by WTOP.
Mr. Brown September 04, 2013 at 10:58 PM
So by "Drone" you mean "model airplane." This headline is hacky, and this story is designed to be deceptive.
Mary Ann Barton (Editor) September 05, 2013 at 08:31 AM
Hi Matthew — Model airplanes are for recreational/hobby use and it's not clear what the purpose was here -- a government drone? A commercial drone? Or someone who outfitted their model airplane with a camera? Here's some information from the FAA regarding the difference between model airplanes and drones: http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/uas_faq/
Mr. Brown September 05, 2013 at 09:06 AM
Why would you see a model aircraft and make the leap to drone? There's no reason to believe there was a camera on it. I'm aware of the concept of the difference between a model and a drone, are you? Is the guy who first mentioned the word drone? You're the one who is suggesting a drone without evidence, not me. You're spreading nonsense rumors based on nothing, and asking wild questions under the guise of investigation. Look up Occam's Razor, or the phrase "when you hear hooves, look for horses, not zebras."
Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. September 05, 2013 at 10:06 AM
Call it whatever you want. It's what's commonly called a "quadcopter" or "quadracopter." Search on YouTube and you'll see many examples of various versions of such radio controlled devices. Given the multiple rotors it's probably more appropriate to call it a "drone" than a "model airplane" but hat does not matter. What's intersting are the facts of the report -- someone saw one of these hovering near the fire. That's news.
Mr. Brown September 05, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Well, there's no room for a pilot or payload, so you COULD call this a drone by the most inclusive definition of the concept. We could also call it a toy by the same standard. You have to maintain a lot of assumptions without evidence to even build a premise that the toy is even related to the fire, other than coincidence. If toy use near fires, with no reason to suspect that they have anything to do with one another, qualifies as news to you, then enjoy. This certainly doesn't reach the standard of a fake "mystery drone" headline, and only someone maintaining a high level of deliberate ignorance would actually ask the fire department about their drones. This is either ignorance or a deliberate attempt to create a story where there is none.
oldtowner September 06, 2013 at 10:22 AM
Matthew: Not sure what your "beef" is with this article. Several news sources reported the sighting of the drone, as the large fire received lots of news coverage. In fact, one article says that the FAA forbids any drones within 16.5 miles of Reagan Airport....so this person may have in fact broken the law. Also, a young man in Brooklyn was recently killed when the remote control helicopter he was flying hit him in the head. I find your comment about "someone maintaining a high level of deliberate ignorance" an exaggeration and also offensive.
Mr. Brown September 06, 2013 at 03:38 PM
My beef is with deceptive headlines and the covering of non-events. The term "drone" implies a lot of things, like government ownership or the carrying of a camera payload, none of which are supported by the sightings of a toy near a fire. This is nothing more than a rumor mill, and it's not what I have come to expect from Patch reporting. None of the points you bring up (the airport, the man killed in brooklyn) are related to this, and therefore are not useful. The story wasn't about an illegal aircraft, or the dangers of RC aircraft. It just repeated the improper and inflammatory use of the term "drone." That's what I mean by "deliberate ignorance." A responsible journalist wouldn't repeat the term, or would correct the term as part of the story. An appropriate headline for this would be "Toy mistaken for firefighting aircraft" or "Drone was actually Toy," and the purpose of the story would be to inform people that it was nothing. Instead, the author repeats a baseless claim from another news site, repeats the incorrect term, and then mis-directs people to the FAA, as if they have control over toys.
oldtowner September 06, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Matthew: I'm not gonna spend much more time on this.....but the term "drone" does not imply government ownership to me....and how do you know this thing did not have a camera? What is your definition of the difference between a "toy" and a "drone?"
Bob Bruhns September 07, 2013 at 04:31 PM
It's interesting. That makes it news. Who knew the 400 foot height, sight-range, non-commercial rules for amateur drones?
Defy Libtards September 08, 2013 at 02:42 PM
NOTHING here is news. For crying out loud people, there are more important things going on. It seems when you move to Del Ray or Old Town, you become mindless sheep who neglect the outside world.
Bob Bruhns September 08, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Methinks thou dost protest too much, DL. This particular drone story is interesting for many reasons, not the least of which being that it looks very much like the military drone just past the 5:00 mark in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwkxx84wXNo That said, I will agree that this interesting story is not as critical as the story about the warmonger cries for the USA to get into yet another middle east war, in Syria this time.
oldtowner September 10, 2013 at 02:15 PM
thanks for the video link, Bob B. Very interesting....so these small drones could be used to do not-very-nice things. I'm still not clear on where Matthew draws a distinction between a "toy" and a "drone."
Mr. Brown September 10, 2013 at 08:06 PM
The same line I draw for professional and amateur. Was someone trying to do something professional? Or was it a teenager with a $50 plastic rig from amazon.com?
oldtowner September 10, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Not very definitive, Matthew.....who decides what is professional vs. amateur? I assume you saw the recent news release that said the cause of this fire was not accidental...couldn't a teenager with a rig from Amazon do some damage , intentional or not?
Mr. Brown September 11, 2013 at 05:51 AM
Typically employment, real, not imagined, is the deciding variable. I think you're making another illogical leap even by your question. The fire was "not accidental" which means arson. No reason to suspect any flying toys were involved. I don't think a plastic toy with an electric motor could do anything close to this. Again, coincidence is not correlation or causation. You have to wander down a path of smaller and smaller chances to even get close to the two being involved. Asking a question after noting a fact is not a logical course of investigation.
oldtowner September 11, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Matthew: I assume you saw the other news today where the Fire Chief said the fire was not accidental, but does NOT meet the legal definition of "arson." I'm not claiming a "drone" or "toy" caused this fire, merely pondering how one makes a distinction between the two.


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