Fire rages at Pendleton; military assets pushed into service

U.S. Marines and fire crew on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., respond to wildfires ablaze in southern California on May 14, 2014.


By JON HARPER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 17, 2014

WASHINGTON — Wildfires ravaging parts of Southern California have forced evacuations at military facilities, while the Defense Department assisted civilian emergency responders in battling the flames.

One large blaze known as the ‘Tomahawk Fire’ forced closures and evacuations at portions of Camp Pendleton and Naval Weapons Station Fallbrook, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters Friday. The fire burned 6,300 acres at Pendleton, and 356 families were forced to move to shelters on the other side of the base. More than 380 military and civilian firefighters are trying to put out the flames at Pendleton, according to Warren.

Late Friday night, Marine Corps officials lifted an evacuation order for some Camp Pendleton housing, though several areas, including an infantry school, were still under the order, The Associated Press reported.

A Camp Pendleton Fire Department firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion, according to the AP. Earlier Friday, base officials reportedly told KGTV that the Tomahawk Fire was 10 percent contained.

Other military assets are also involved in “fire suppression operations” in the area, Warren said. DOD has contributed helicopters to the effort, including five Marine Corps CH-53 Super Stallions, eight Marine Corps CH-46 Chinooks, and six Navy MH-60 Seahawks. And approximately 50 firefighters and five fire trucks from Navy bases at Coronado, San Diego, Point Loma, and El Centro are supporting neighboring civilian firefighters.

A flare-up Thursday in the San Diego suburb of San Marcos led to more than 18,000 new evacuation notices on Thursday, and only 10 percent of the fire had been contained as of Friday morning. Other evacuation orders were lifted Friday morning in other parts of San Diego County as fire crews worked to contain the threat, according to the AP.

Twitter: @JHarperStripes

Families are evacuated from base housing on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., due to California wildfires May 14, 2014. The Tomahawk fire, in the northeast section of Camp Pendleton has burned more than 6,000 acres forcing evacuations of housing areas on base and various schools both on and off base. Aircraft from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the Camp Pendleton Fire Department worked in coordination with CALFIRE to prevent fires from spreading off base. Marine officials are coordinating with CALFIRE for the further use of military aircraft pending the wildfire status within San Diego County.


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