In a rare move, Orange County helicopter called in to battle vehicle fire

In a rare move, Orange County helicopter called in to battle vehicle fire

A helicopter dropped 350 gallons of water onto a vehicle fire generating a plume of smoke, flame and ash that threatened to ignite vegetation adjacent to the 241 Toll Road on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

A 2014 Dodge Ram that had stopped in a northbound lane due to a mechanical failure erupted in flames at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, roughly 1.5 miles north of the Santiago Canyon Road exit. The toll road connects Orange and Riverside counties.

The Orange County Fire Authority immediately diverted a helicopter, which had been grounded at Irvine Lake in between trips to help fight the Holy fire. It made two separate drops onto the burning truck.

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“It put up a pretty significant column of smoke,” said OCFA Capt. Steve Concialdi. “Fire and ember could have easily ignited nearby brush.”

The flames were mostly contained within 15 minutes of when they were reported. They were fully extinguished by fire engines that arrived shortly after the helicopter was dispatched.

Aerial support for a vehicle fire is an extremely rare occurrence, happening only once every few years, according to Concialdi. However, OCFA has taken an increasingly aggressive approach to prevent wildfires in recent years.

“It was a definite threat because of the proximity to dry brush and vegetation,” said Concialdi.

The pickup truck was a total loss, however no injuries were reported.