Marines to Conduct Controlled Burn at Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton, Calif., sign. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Camp Pendleton, Calif., sign. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

The Marine Corps will join forces with the Los Angeles Fire Department to conduct a controlled burn over 170 acres of Camp Pendleton grassland on Saturday morning.

Officials said that 30 firefighters from Camp Pendleton and another 60 from Los Angeles will spark the blaze at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

The fire is expected to consume a portion of the November training area. That's near the base's southern border with Oceanside so residents and drivers between Douglas Road and Interstate 5 might see plumes of smoke.

Officials say that six fire engines and two hand crews will stand ready to prevent the blaze spreading. They hope that burning dry vegetation will slash the amount of brush that could fuel future fires and help maintain native species of grass.

The Los Angeles firefighters are taking advantage of the burn so that they can train in wildland firefighting techniques.

"We have a number of controlled burns tentatively scheduled throughout the year," Carl Redding, a base spokesman, said by email. "The schedule may fluctuate depending on real world conditions like weather and actual fires in those areas."

Camp Pendleton averages less than an inch of rainfall during the dry season from June through October. In extreme droughts, the base can go 150 days without rain, making the training terrain vulnerable to sudden conflagrations.

The November training area harbors two endangered species of wild birds, plus another that's threatened.

The Least Bell's Vireo and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher thrive in the area's bottomlands and creeks while the California Gnatcatcher prefers its coastal sagebrush.

"Whenever the Camp Pendleton Fire Department plans to conduct a prescribed burn, they submit a detailed plan to the base Environmental Security office," said base spokesman Capt. Luke "Dream" Weaver by email. "Environmental Security conducts a thorough review checking to ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and any other applicable environmental policies and regulations. As part of that review, a survey of the impacted area is conducted by a biologist from Environmental Security to check for the presence of threatened species and to ensure any impacts to wildlife will comply with existing regulations.

"Finally, a burn permit is secured from the San Diego Air Quality Management District to ensure that atmospheric conditions are appropriate to minimize the impact of a prescribed burn on air quality."

Base officials also warn nearby residents that on May 25th they might hear the echoes of high explosive shells detonating in training areas on the eastern side of the base. The mortar fire is slated to begin around 6 a.m. and continue until midnight.

This article is written by Carl Prine from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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