Vegetation fire near Lompoc burns 17 acres, air units grounded due to drone

17 acres, ag equipment burned

LOMPOC, Calif. - Santa Barbara County firefighters responded to a report of a vegetation fire near Lompoc Wednesday afternoon. 

The fire was reported at 4777 Sweeney Rd., about nine miles east of Lompoc around 1 p.m.

Fire crews from Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Lompoc Fire Department and Los Padres National Forest responded.

The fire was in a remote area off of a dirt road and smoke was seen from miles away.

By 2 p.m., the fire had burned about 10 acres of light grass but was being driven by wind. One structure was threatened and up to three nearby structures were at risk of becoming threatened as well due to the wind.

Helicopters flew overhead, making air drops on hot spots. A water source near the fire helped with the water drops. Two Cal Fire air tankers also assisted making water drops. 

Air support had to be grounded due to a citizen flying a small hobby drone over the fire. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is investigating to determine the owner of the drone.

It is illegal to have any small hobby drones in areas where fire activity is ongoing. "If you fly, we can't," Santa Barbara County Fire spokesman Mike Eliason said.

Air units were eventually released from the scene due to the drone.

One responding fire engine was delayed by construction and the closure of Highway 1 between Highway 101 and Jalama Beach. That engine had to detour through Buellton and Highway 246 due to the closure. 

By 2:40 p.m., the fire was 20 percent contained and remained at 10 acres but forward progress appeared to be stopped. A vehicle and a shed were destroyed in the fire as well as some agricultural equipment.

At 4:15 p.m. the fire was 80 percent contained after burning 17 acres.

A small cannabis operation was also located near the fire and sustained some damage.

The fire was fully contained at 17 acres by Wednesday evening. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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