Cal Fire Drops Fire Retardant, Catching TV Reporter During Live Shot

Steven Luke said he heard fire crews behind him say, "Whoa! and run!" seconds before it happened.

A Cal Fire airplane dropped fire retardant on a Southern California fire and caught an NBC 7 reporter by surprise while he was reporting on live television. 

Steven Luke was reporting from Riverside County on the efforts to control the Tenaja Fire. As of late Thursday, 2,000 acres had been scorched.

He was in the middle of his newscast report when suddenly, right before he tossed back to the anchors in the studio, a Cal Fire aircraft appeared from the other side of a hill and opened its cargo doors. 

A large cloud of fire retardant landed on Luke, his photographer Scott Baird and a number of Kern County Hotshots in the area. 

Instead of dropping his camera and running, Baird held the shot and - well, you can see for yourself - captured the retardant drop in all of its glory. 

What Viewers Saw:

Luke said he heard fire crews behind him say, "Whoa!" and "Run!" seconds before it happened. 

"It's kinda of like pink raindrops. It doesn't really stick to you or your clothing," he said afterwards. "You can wipe it off with a wet cloth."

Firefighters grabbed hoses from nearby houses and helping to wash down garage doors, sidewalks and awnings. 

NBC 7 Photographer Scott Baird's Live Shot:

The aircraft was an MD-87 air tanker owned by Erickson Aero Tankers, who is contracted with CALFire. That plane has a storage capacity of 3,000 gallons of phoscheck or water.

The NBC 7 crew was reporting from a neighborhood that was under evacuation but they were not in an area where media was not allowed to be at the time of the retardant drop. 

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