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As I was flying at 4000 feet from Hemet to Gillespie Field at 11:30 a.m. on May 26, I spotted a column of smoke from the San Vicente Reservoir area. This was not good news, since planes arriving into Gillespie Field usually report to the tower when over the reservoir.

Passing over Ramona Airport, I looked down and saw two California Department of Forestry firefighting bombers taking off. They proceeded to the fire, which was between the San Vicente Dam and the rock quarry west of it.

I saw their "boss" in his twin-engine plane circling over the fire. The bombers stayed well below me and I was able to see them begin to circle, then drop their red fire retardant in a pattern around the fire, which appeared to be inaccessible by foot.

The fire was out in a matter of minutes, and I glided down through Lakeside to a landing at Gillespie Field.

Image: airforcetimes.com

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