Man starts fire after getting lost in rural East County near Dulzura

Posted at 4:48 PM, Dec 05, 2017

DULZURA, Calif. (KGTV) -- A man who got lost after running out of gas in the rural East County community of Dulzura set a fire Tuesday afternoon in hopes of being found, according to authorities.

The fire started near Lyons Valley Road and Horsethief Canyon. With winds blowing at roughly 20 miles-per-hour, the fire quickly scorched half an acre.

The man reportedly saw a small helicopter flying overhead and set the fire to catch the pilot's attention. Hikers in the area spotted the man and notified fire crews.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Thomas Fire coverage map, evacuation zones

Crews brought the man to a nearby hospital for treatment. Officials at the scene said he had been in the remote area of Cleveland National Forest for at least a few of days after his car ran out of gas about 10 miles from where he was found.

The man has not been identified. His medical condition is unknown.

Authorities say the U.S. Forestry Service was able to quickly extinguish the fire before it spread. 

The fire started as several large wildfires scorched tens of thousands of acres in both Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.

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A long period of Santa Ana winds are expected stretch through the end of the week.

San Diegans may recall a similar act ignited a deadly wildfire in 2003. The Cedar Fire began after a Sergio Martinez, 35, intentionally set a fire south of Ramona so rescue crews would find him. Martinez had become lost from his friend after a day of hunting.

The blaze scorched 270,000 acres, destroyed or damaged more than 2,200 homes and killed 15 people.

Martinez eventually admitted to setting the fire intentionally and was sentenced to five years probation, serving six months in community confinement.