Camp Pendleton brush fire spreads to more than 1,000 acres

Camp Pendleton brush fire spreads to more than 1,000 acres

8 October 2008

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USA –A brush fire that began Wednesday afternoon on a base range used to train Marines in explosives disposal spread to more than 1,000 acres by nightfall, and smoke from the blaze could be seen earlier from throughout North County.

By 7 p.m., the fire, which began about 3:35 p.m., was burning in a northeasterly direction, said Capt. Nick Schuler of Cal Fire.

Temecula residents said they were getting smoke and ash from the blaze Wednesday night.

Marine Staff Sgt. Jesse Lora, a base spokesman, said the fire was burning in rugged, hilly terrain between one of the base’s airfields and its golf course. He said no buildings were threatened, but the golf course was evacuated shortly after the fire began.

Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and the Sheriff’s Department had a total of 10 aircraft fighting the fire, both helicopters and fixed-wing tankers – including two Superscooper water bombers recently arrived from Canada, Schuler said.

On the ground, firefighters from the base, fire departments around the county and Cal Fire had crews and trucks fighting the blaze, said another base spokeswoman, Marine Cpl. Priscilla Vitale.

Vitale said it was not immediately known how the fire started or whether training was going on at the range when the fire started.

It also was not known if unexploded ordnance remained on the range.

In the late afternoon, a trail of smoke several miles long could be seen seen from Oceanside and as far south as Solana Beach.

Several North County residents posted comments about the fire on a newsblog Wednesday night.

In a post at 6:54 p.m., a woman named Elizabeth said she could hear helicopters nearby.

“I am in the De Luz area of Temecula, and it looks very bad up here,” she wrote. “Smoke is very thick. My daughter got scared because she thought it was another fire up here … that’s how bad the smell is and how thick the smoke is!”

Another woman, Melissa, posted this at 6:46 p.m.: “I am in Temecula, and we can smell it. It is creeping in heavily,” she wrote.

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