Bay City News

Firefighters Battling Brush Blaze in Saratoga Reach 40 Percent Containment

Fire crews on Tuesday continue to keep a watchful eye on a vegetation fire burning on the western edge of Saratoga near a popular winery.

The fire was reported on Mt. Eden Road west of Pierce Road, according to an alert sent out by fire officials at 3:51 p.m. By Tuesday morning, fire crews said the blaze had burned 10 acres and was 40 percent contained.

Firefighters late Monday were working to contain the flames, but they were delayed when a drone got in the way.

Officials conformed that a drone was spotted flying over the area where the firefight was taking place. That presented a major problem.

"We had a helicopter coming in and it had to be waved off because the drone was spotted," said Ryan Cronin, Santa Clara County arson investigator. "That investigation is ongoing.”

Flying drones in an emergency zone is a violation of FAA rules and California codes.

"It probably didn’t affect this fire that much, but if it would have impacted that helicopter, it could have caused it to crash," Cronin said.

Between February and September of 2015, there were 874 drone sightings and incidents nationwide, according to the FAA. During that same time period in 2016, there were 1,274 sightings and incidents

The fire burned uphill and away from homes, officials said. No structures were threatened, and no evacuations were ordered.

Initially it was reported that officials had asked residents in the Mt. Eden Road area to shelter in place so emergency heavy equipment can access the fire. But Cronin later said the road was open to residents and some through traffic.

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