POWAY, Calif. — An SUV sparked a brush fire Monday afternoon in Poway, after officials said the driver became stuck in a dried up pond.
Cal Fire officials told NBC 7/39 a man took his Jeep Cherokee out into the middle of a small valley near state Route 67 and Poway Road close to Iron Mountain around 10 a.m. to go four-wheeling. The SUV sank a bit and then the catalytic converter caught the grass on fire.
The blaze quickly spread.
NBC 7/39 spoke with a group of women were training in the area for the Breast Cancer Walk when they saw the smoke and flames.
“We saw it get from little to big as we were going down — so we walked up and ran down,” said hiker Judy Fitzgerald.
“We were almost to the top and we looked down and there was a fire — it just started,” said hiker Laura Salomon.
Four helicopters aggressively attacked the fire from the air. Two from the county, one from the city of San Diego and one from the U.S. Forest Service. Fire trucks form Poway and surrounding cities also aided in the fight.
The attack was fast, as officials feared the blaze could have burned hundreds of acres due to the dry Santa Ana conditions. Cal Fire spokesman Matt Streck said the blaze is a sign of the high risk of fire dangers
“The Santa Ana winds are so warm and so dry that they wick the moisture out of the grasses — so grass that got wet yesterday in a rain could be dry today,” Streck said.