Illegal drones disrupted water drops during Del Mar Heights firefight, San Diego Fire says

San Diego Fire-Rescue posted a stern warning on the platform X

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • All evacuation orders and warnings have been lifted
  • All roads that were closed due to the fire have been reopened
  • 23 acres burned, 50% contained as of 8:45 p.m. Tuesday

San Diego Fire-Rescue said their response to a fast-moving brush fire in Del Mar Heights on Tuesday was disrupted by people illegally flying drones in the area.

The fire flared up around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday near Mira Montana Drive off Del Mar Heights Road and quickly spread up hill towards homes. About 200 firefighting personnel responded to the blaze north of the Torrey Pines State Reserve with resources from the ground and air.

But, at one point during the firefight, crews were interrupted when a drone was spotted in the area. At least three water drops were delayed because of the illegal drone activity.

San Diego Fire-Rescue posted a stern warning on the platform X.

"DO NOT FLY DRONES DURING FIRE AIR SUPPRESSION OPERATIONS. This creates an extreme hazard for the aircraft," the agency said.

The brush fire forced 2,500 people to evacuate their homes, closed roads and burned 23 acres, NBC 7's Dave Summers reports.

It is illegal to fly drones that could interfere with emergency responses in California.

A person who launched drones in the area at least twice was identified and pursued by police, firefighters said. An SDPD spokesperson told NBC 7 no citations were issued.

The wildfire had originally erupted at about 10:30 a.m. but was reported to be under control by the afternoon. A hot spot flared up outside the containment zone, prompting SDFD to call in additional resources.

Evacuations were ordered for about 2,500 residents with another 1,500 under evacuation warnings. A temporary shelter was established at the nearby Del Mar Fairgrounds. Roads were closed in the area as crews fanned out through the neighborhood to protect life and property.

Firefighters are battling a brush fire burning near homes in Del Mar Heights.

Two firefighters were hospitalized for heat exhaustion but were treated and released the same day, the SDFD said.

Firefighters gained the upper hand at about 5:30 p.m. and forward progress was stopped but crew members remained on scene to increase containment. Roadways were reopened.

The fire had burned to about 23 acres and was 50% contained by Wednesday morning. Roadways reopened overnight but some minor detours could be in effect.

No homes were damaged in the firefight.

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