An arson suspect became trapped above a vegetation fire in the Jurupa Hills area of Fontana on Nov. 1 and was rescued by a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department helicopter before being arrested, authorities said.
The suspect was identified as Luis Mondragon, a 34-year-old man from Colton.
In addition, one other person was also rescued by helicopter during the incident, the Sheriff's Department said.
The Cypress Fire erupted at 1:36 p.m. in southern Fontana, and the Fontana Police Department received multiple 911 calls reporting hikers were trapped at the location. The Fontana P.D. requested San Bernardino County Sheriff's Aviation to assist with possible rescues.
The crew of 40King6 responded to the location and searched for stranded hikers near the fire. The crew located a man, later identified as Mondragon, standing on a large boulder surrounded by heavy smoke and fire. The crew learned from officers on the scene that Mondragon was suspected of arson. The crew determined his life was in immediate jeopardy and a rescue must be completed.
The crew's flight officer transitioned to the back seat while in flight and prepared for a hover step rescue. The flight officer stepped out onto the helicopter skid and directed the pilot into position over Mondragon. The pilot hovered the helicopter into position and Mondragon was pulled into the helicopter. The crew flew away from the fire, landed in a field nearby, and detained Mondragon until officers arrived to take custody of him.
The crew members continued their search for additional hikers and located Aiting Zhu, a 22-year-old Ontario man, who was also stranded near the right flank of the fire. The crew again maneuvered into position and hovered the helicopter next to Zhu. The flight officer pulled Zhu into the helicopter and he was flown to medical personnel on scene for treatment.
As the crew continued to search for victims, two additional San Bernardino County Sheriff's helicopters, 40King3 and 40King5, assisted with numerous water drops. Additionally, a helicopter and air tankers from Cal-Fire and USFS assisted San Bernardino County Fire ground crews with water drops.
The fire burned about 130 acres until air and ground crews managed to stop the forward rate of spread.