Target Practice Said to be Cause of 131 Acre Fire Between Fillmore & Santa Paula

Target practice on private property has been determined to be the cause of a 131-acre fire on Sunday, July 14th, between Fillmore and Santa Paula. The fire was reported at 11:40 p.m. in the 21600 block of South Mountain Road, spreading to light to medium brush. It was contained south of South Mountain Road, east of Balcom Canyon, north of the ridge line and west of Bardsdale Cemetery. Three firefighters were sent to the hospital; one with an ankle injury, and two due to dehydration. More than 300 personnel and equipment were assigned to the fire. Tankers 76 and 78 were called in from Porterville and Air Attack 07 from Santa Maria. LA County Copter 16 also responded. At least a dozen dozers were called to the scene. Handcrews and type-3 engines designed to work on narrow dirt roads and rugged terrain were called in. At approximately 2:50 p.m. a drone was spotted over the fire; law enforcement was requested. Per the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR 9212.1(f), it is illegal to resist or interfere with the efforts of firefighters to extinguish a fire. Doing so can result in a significant fine and/or a mandatory court appearance. Even a small drone can cause a serious or fatal accident if it collides with firefighting aircraft. In most situations, if drones are spotted near a wildfire, firefighting aircraft must land due to safety concerns. This prolongs firefighting operations; in many cases, wildfires become larger when aircraft are not able to drop fire retardant, water, monitor wildfires from above, or provide tactical information to firefighters. Homes and other values at risk could burn needlessly, firefighters or others could be injured, or worst of all, a fatal accident could occur. No evacuations and no structures were involved. No information released if the shooter will be held financially liable for the fire. Photos courtesy Ventura County Fire Department.