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Camp Pendleton Marine base threatened by wildfire

Firefighters work to put out a mulch pile at a nursery in Orange County, Calif., on Sunday. (Associated Press)
Firefighters work to put out a mulch pile at a nursery in Orange County, Calif., on Sunday. (Associated Press)

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Crews built containment lines Sunday around a wind-driven wildfire that scorched nearly 4 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 20 percent contained as the fire danger subsided with calmer winds late Sunday. 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’Neill 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.

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 300 firefighters were at the scene. The fire’s cause was under investigation.

About 40 miles to the north, a fire sparked in a mulch pile at a nursery near Santiago Canyon in Orange County prompted the evacuation of 23 residents. The fire was not threatening homes and an RV park in the area, but residents were evacuated because of heavy smoke and in case a spot fire is ignited, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi said.

The blaze, reported late Sunday morning, burned an outbuilding and quickly charred about 30 acres of surrounding wild vegetation. 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 New-hall 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. Highway 101 in Oxnard and crashed into a car dealership parking lot, causing a fire that spread to 16 vehicles in the lot, officials said.


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