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Fire flares up at Camp Pendleton

Oct. 8, 2008 - 04:55PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 8, 2008 - 04:55PM  |  
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OCEANSIDE, Calif. Firefighters working through the night significantly slowed the progress of a wildfire at Camp Pendleton that had quickly grown to nearly 1,000 acres on a Marine explosives range.

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. Firefighters working through the night significantly slowed the progress of a wildfire at Camp Pendleton that had quickly grown to nearly 1,000 acres on a Marine explosives range.

The blaze about 40 miles north of San Diego was 70 percent contained early Thursday as temperatures fell and winds stayed calm after nightfall, said Marine Maj. Kristen Lasica.

The fire was burning through the remote range used to train Marines in disposing of explosives. The flames were far from the populated part of the base and threatened no structures, but Camp Pendleton's golf course was evacuated as a precaution.

Billowing smoke could be seen as far away as Orange County to the north and Riverside County to the east.

"Crews are optimistic, but keeping in mind the dry weather conditions, there are no guarantees," said Capt. Nick Schuler, a spokesman for the state Department of Forestry and Fire. "We expect continued hot and dry weather but no wind until Sunday evening. Hopefully, this will be out by then."

Gentle winds Wednesday pushed the fire northeast through dry brush on the base's southern end, near Oceanside, where drivers on Interstate 5 slowed to watch as the blaze cast an eerie, orange glow on the sky.

By Thursday, it had "slowed considerably on three sides" the Camp Pendleton Web site said.

Marine officials said they did not know the cause of the fire or whether training was going on at the range when the blaze began. Lasica said it was not immediately clear if explosives remained in the training field.

A small, separate brush fire broke out and briefly threatened several homes on the base shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday, but it was quickly contained.

Power was shut off in some areas of the base to allow firefighters to burn firelines.

Ten Marine brush truck teams, similar to engine companies, were being aided by 20 fire engines from county fire agencies and state and federal forestry departments.

Last October, more than 21,000 acres burned in remote areas of the base. No structures were damaged.

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