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I had just taken off from Montgomery Field with my friend in his Cessna 172 at 4:30pm on Sunday, June 16, and we turned to fly eastbound.

Smoke was clearly visible just beginning to rise from a grass fire on the south side of eastbound Route 52, just past Santo Road.

Within minutes, we saw the first firefighting helicopter making drops but were too high to see what agency it was from.

About an hour later, upon returning to Gillespie Field from Brown Field, the El Cajon Valley was so filled with smoke that we could not see the runway until we were about a mile out.

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