The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) completed its
investigation into the cause of the Pines Fire near Julian. At approximately 2 p.m., Monday (July 29, 2002), a California
National Guard OH‑58A+ observation helicopter working in conjunction with
the San Diego Interagency Narcotics Task Force experienced an accidental main
rotor “blade strike” on the first line of an electrical power line in the
Banner Creek area of Julian. Although the blade strike did not cut the power
line, the force of the impact caused the support pole to rattle with sufficient
force to break the third line, which subsequently fell into the trees causing a
The pilot felt
what he thought might have been a blade strike and initiated a precautionary
landing in a nearby clearing. The pilot then evacuated the aircraft to a secure
site. Once airborne, both pilot and passenger immediately noticed smoke in the
direction from which the aircraft had just come. After landing in Julian, the
fire was reported to the CDF.
a fire investigator with CDF, has determined that the fire initially began in
the trees on Volcan Mountain . Sparks and debris falling from the trees ignited a
second fire in the Banner Creek bed. Influenced by 10 to 25 mph winds, the two
fires eventually merged into what is now known as the Pines Fire.
National Guard has begun its own formal investigation into the matter, as
required by the Department of the Army.