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Drone Flier Grounds Fire Aircraft


With as many as five large wildfires burning around the state, CalFire reported on Thursday that a drone in the Onyx Summit area grounded all firefighting aircraft. The Lake Fire in San Bernardino County required the evacuation of several neighborhoods as it overran its containment line, growing from 27 percent contained on Wednesday to 21 percent overnight, according to the Desert Sun; it’s consumed 23,199 acres as of Thursday morning.

An airtanker pilot spotted a hobbyist’s drone below on Wednesday evening, said Daniel Berlant, CalFire’s public information chief, which presented a potentially catastrophic hazard. All firefighting aircraft were taken off line until the operator could be located and the drone removed.

Two ongoing uncontained fires are burning in Madera County, and the Washington Fire in Alpine County is reported to be only 10 percent contained at 17,000 acres. The smaller Calgrove Fire in Los Angeles County is at 60 percent containment. In Santa Paula, the River Fire burned 164 acres before firefighters gained control, and the Park Hill fire east of Santa Margarita in San Luis Obispo County was stopped at 1,791 acres.

Triple-digit temperatures in parts of California are keeping the fire danger high, with strong winds, thunderstorms, and dry lightning forecast for northeast parts of the state. As part of the statewide mutual aid system, several fire departments around Santa Barbara County have sent firefighters, equipment, and the essential behind-the-scenes personnel to a number of the ongoing blazes, said Captain Dave Zaniboni, County Fire’s information officer.

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