Drones hovering over wildfires is a new trend in California, and on Saturday, fire officials condemned the operators of “hobby drones”, as officials labeled them.
The fire started in the Cajon Pass along Interstate 15 – the main highway between Southern California and Las Vegas – and quickly spread across 3,500 acres.
A wildfire in California reached a freeway filled with motorists on Friday and proceeded to burn everything on its path. Many motorist were forced to flee on foot to avoid being caught in the fire.
As the fire headed north toward the town of Phelan, dozens of fire trucks moved into position as homeowners with garden hoses cast eerie silhouettes against the dark smoke. In this case, it appears that the drones were flying at legal altitudes in an area that’s known to be popular for recreational drone operators.
“It’s so dry that its carrying that fire a lot faster, and put a little wind on it and this is what we have”, she said.
Fire department officials said the fire engulfed large areas on both sides of Interstate 15, which is the main connector between Southern California and Las Vegas. Unfortunately, that just so happened to be right next to the wildfire, and the operators, against their better judgement, just couldn’t help but get a closer look.
Television helicopters carried the scene live as the flames leapt from vehicle to vehicle while water-dropping helicopters and then firefighters on the freeway battled to get control. But wildfires causing vehicles to catch fire on major freeways are not common.
This year, researchers with the U.S. Forest Service surveyed 4.2 million acres of trees in the Cleveland, San Bernardino, Angeles and Los Padres national forests and found that 2 million trees had died because of the drought and the invasion of bark beetles.
Carapia said that 60 to 70 cars were abandoned on the road, making it hard for emergency responders to maneuver through all the vehicles left behind.
“Rain itself is good”, she said, “However, with thunderstorms also comes wind and lightning strikes and those are not so good”.
On I-15, Talia Sclafani sat in a van with her soccer teammates, when police came by calling over loudspeakers for people to stay in their cars.
The San Bernardino County Fire Department also said on Twitter that 90 girl scouts were evacuated from a nearby campground.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt.
Phelan resident Andrew Eblen lost his childhood home in the fire Friday night.