LOS ANGELES (AP) – Fire officials say aircraft sent to battle a wildfire that swept across a Southern California freeway were briefly delayed after five drones were spotted above the blaze.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Lee Beyer says it was the fourth time in a span of a month that a drone disrupted efforts to suppress a wildfire in the region.
He says some firefighting planes were grounded, while several other aircraft that were on the way to the blaze had to be diverted until the drones left the area.
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. The flames destroyed 20 vehicles, sending motorists running to safety before burning at least four structures. Another 50 homes in the rural Baldy Mesa community were threatened.
Authorities say firefighters have made some progress and the blaze is around 5 percent contained.
California is in the midst of severe drought, and wildfires are common. Some break out near freeways, but it’s very unusual to have vehicles caught in the flames.