- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, Nov. 01, 2003 at 11:20 PM
tate firefighters rejected air drop request for Cedar Fire because of night regulations
(10-30) 23:43 PST SAN DIEGO (AP) --
The first helicopter pilot to see the patch of flames that would become the catastrophic Cedar Fire radioed for aerial water drops, but state firefighters rejected his request because it came minutes after such flights had been grounded for the night.
Within hours, the flames cascaded out of control and killed 13 residents between the mountains east of San Diego and the city. It eventually became the largest wildfire in California history.
Southern California was already besieged by flames Saturday evening when the San Diego County Sheriff's helicopter went to search for a lost hunter who allegedly lit a beacon fire.
Pilot Dave Weldon told The Associated Press on Thursday that he saw state firefighting planes on a nearby airstrip as he approached the mountains at 110 mph. He called down for help because his dispatcher had relayed reports of smoke in the area, but he got no response.
That was around 5:45 p.m. A few minutes later, he spotted smoke from the fire, then only about 50 yards on each side and not spreading.
As he steadied his helicopter against wind gusts, Weldon's concern mounted. Just before landing, he called for backup, asking another county helicopter to speed to the scene with its 120-gallon water dump bucket. And he urged the dispatcher to contact state firefighters and renew his request for air tankers.
The problem was that under state safety guidelines, no flights can go up into waning daylight. On Saturday, the cutoff was 5:36 p.m., said California Department of Forestry Capt. Ron Serabia, who coordinates the 12 tankers and 10 helicopters now battling the 272,000-acre blaze.
The sun set that day at 6:05 p.m.
The helicopter with the dump bucket flew within five miles of the fire, before state officials told it to turn back, Weldon said. The air tankers never took off. Weldon was told crews would attack the fire in the morning.
"We were basically just offering our assistance fighting their fire, and they turned it down," said Weldon, who with his partner delivered the hunter to law enforcement officials who cited him for setting an unauthorized fire. "I was frustrated about it, but I wasn't surprised."
Weldon said the county helicopter wouldn't have been allowed to drop water after dark and said that it alone couldn't have done the job, but he thought a well-placed drop from the air tanker might have extinguished the flames.
On Thursday, California's top fire official said he was not aware of the events and cited state night-flight restrictions.
"If the air tankers and helicopters cannot safely fly based on daylight, they cannot respond," said Ray Snodgrass, chief deputy director of the CDF. "We certainly don't want to kill any pilots."
The call from the county dispatcher came minutes after pilots had left the airstrip in Ramona for the night, Serabia said.
Serabia was off Saturday, but said that if word had arrived sooner, a plane could have dropped 3,200 gallons of chemical retardant within eight minutes. What's more, pilots might have slipped in a second flight because once a plane is engaged, it can fly up to 30 minutes after cutoff.
"The aircraft would have been able to suppress the fire, or at least hold it in check," Serabia said.
Still, he said hindsight was pointless.
"It's easy to say 'What if we did this,' or 'What if we did that,"' said Serabia, a 35-year veteran firefighter. "I'm not going to second-guess it. That's what we have to live with -- what happened, what transpired from that point after cutoff."
The rules may help save pilots, but they were cold comfort to the son of one man who died hours after the county helicopter was called off.
Stephen Shacklett was killed shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday when he tried to race away from the flames in his motor home.
Told of Saturday evening's events in the air, his son was incredulous on Thursday.
"The hugest fire in California history," said Stephen Shacklett Jr., "and they had a chance to put it out."
Report this post as:
Change Links September 2018 posted
More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre
Site Outage Friday
Change Links August 2018
Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land
More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke
Change Links 2018 July posted
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California
Change Links June 2018 posted
The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years
Unity Archive Project
Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi
CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police
Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies
California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings)
Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico
Change Links May 2018
Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
More Local News...
Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy
Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales
Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc
Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk
Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement
Creative Destruction Hack Diamonds Windows/iOS/Android - Creative Destruction Generator
The Dictatorship of Corporations
18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting
Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue
Creative Destruction Hack Mod Generator
Shopping du bashing
After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again
“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen
Probabilités de fin d'humanité
Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW
Propagande de virus, virus de propagande
Steer clear of work morality!
Sweatshop Lodge Ceremony Continues in US Fed Prisons Led by Inmates
Paraphysique de l'origami
The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally!
August 2018 Honduras Coup update
Du réussissement putréfié
Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges
Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts
Paraphysique de contextualité
Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism
More Breaking News...