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Marine base partially evacuates from wildfire

October 6, 2013
Associated Press

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — Crews built containment lines Sunday around a wind-driven wildfire that scorched more than 2 square miles of dry brush and forced people to evacuate part of a Southern California military base.

The blaze at the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton was 15 percent contained and firefighters were trying to halt its movement toward the northeast, said Sgt. Christopher Duncan, a press officer for the Marines.

The fire broke out Saturday amid hot, dry and windy conditions throughout the region. It quickly prompted the evacuation of 230 residents from a housing unit near Lake O'Neil and caused minor damage to four buildings, base officials said. Photos posted on Camp Pendleton's Facebook page showed a few charred vehicles.

The evacuees spent the night elsewhere on the 195-square-mile coastal base in northern San Diego County and will be allowed to return home after 5 p.m. Sunday.

Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton was not threatened by the fire, but a power outage prompted officials to evacuate about 30 patients to other hospitals in the area and stop accepting new patients. Service at the hospital was restored by late Saturday, but the transferred patients remained at the new locations.

More than 200 firefighters were at the scene. The fire's cause was under investigation.

About 40 miles to the north, crews were battling a fire sparked in a mulch pile at a nursery near Santiago Canyon in Orange County. It was sending up a huge plume of smoke visible for miles.

The blaze, reported late Sunday morning, burned an outbuilding and quickly charred about 30 acres of surrounding wild vegetation, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi. No homes were threatened. One firefighter suffered a minor injury.

Water-dropping aircraft were called in as winds fanned the flames. Although wind speeds were predicted to drop later Sunday afternoon, peak gusts of 22 mph were reported at midday.

In northern Los Angeles County, traffic in the Newhall Pass came to a standstill Saturday when a 15-acre fire began on a hillside north of the junction of Interstate 5 and state Route 14. The freeways were closed in all directions for about 90 minutes, according to City News Service.

Wind gusts of 65 mph were reported near the area of the fire.

To the west in Ventura County, a big rig went off U.S. 101 in Oxnard and crashed into a car dealership parking lot, causing a fire that spread to 16 vehicles in the lot, officials said.

The truck driver said wind was a factor in the crash, Oxnard police Cmdr. Martin Myer said. He said strong winds also fanned a fire Friday night that destroyed four buildings in an Oxnard complex and displaced 78 people.

The powerful Santa Anas kicked up late Thursday and a National Weather Service red flag warning of extreme fire danger for the entire region says the wind event will last until Sunday evening.

A peak wind gust of 90 mph was recorded Saturday morning at Laguna Peak in Ventura County.

The weather service called the situation the region's "most significant fire weather threat in the past five years." Temperatures were unseasonably high, reaching in the 90s in many coastal communities, with humidity levels in the single digits.

 
 

 

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