Toy helicopter blamed in Mission Trails brush fire

Toy helicopter blamed in Mission Trails brush fire

12 May 2010

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USA — A fire that charred several acres in Mission Trails Regional Park on Wednesday afternoon was started by a downed radio-controlled helicopter, Santee Deputy Fire Chief Richard Mattick said.

The fire began about 1 p.m. near Big Rock Road and Prospect Avenue in Santee. It briefly threatened some homes in a subdivision off Clifford Heights Road in Santee that were separated from the fire only by a road, Mattick said. Firefighters kept the flames from crossing the road.

The blaze consumed 3 to 5 acres and was contained in about 45 minutes.

About 45 firefighters from Santee, El Cajon, San Diego and other East County agencies assisted, Mattick said. Two helicopters made drops in the area.

A man who was operating the radio-controlled helicopter in the park told officials that he lost control of it and had to set it down. When he went to find it, he heard crackling flames and called 911.

Mattick said it was not yet determined whether officials would try to recover the firefighting costs from the man. The area where the fire actually started is in the city of San Diego, he said.

No firefighters or civilians were injured, and no structures were damaged.

Mattick said it was fortunate that winds were light and the brush was still green. There was some initial concern that the fire could spread up a canyon to Grossmont College, he said.

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