SAN DIEGO — An amphibious vehicle hit a gas line sparking a fire that injured 14 Marines and a sailor during a training exercise at a California base earlier this week, a US military official said Friday.
The vehicle got stuck and as it tried to get free, it hit the gas line, said the official who was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Marines from the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion and a Navy corpsman were conducting a combat readiness evaluation as part of their battalion training at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, when the amphibious vehicle ignited in an inland area of Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, said Marine 1st Lt. Paul Gainey.
The troops were sent to area hospitals, including eight who were rushed to a burn center. On Wednesday, five were listed in critical condition. The Marine Corps has declined to release information on their conditions since then, citing privacy concerns.
The command is investigating the cause of the incident. Gainey said he had no further information to release.
The armored vehicle is used to carry troops and their equipment from Navy ships onto land. It resembles a tank and travels through water before coming ashore. It has been used in the Marine Corps since the 1970s.
In 2013, a 21-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine died and four others were injured when ordnance ignited an amphibious assault vehicle during a training exercise at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, in the California desert.
The Marine Corps has since developed a safer mine clearing system for its amphibious assault vehicles.
Baldor reported from Washington.