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DOD joins efforts to suppress Southern California wildfires
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., American Forces Press Service
May 17, 2014
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WASHINGTON, May 16, 2014 - The Defense Department is providing assistance to local emergency officials battling intense wildfires in the Southern California area, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren said here today.

"Emergency management officials in Southern California have been battling some pretty intense wildfires over the past few days," he said. "DOD personnel and equipment based in the Southern California area have been assisting local first responders with fire suppression operations."

Aircraft with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing assist state and local agencies with wildfires in San Marcos, Calif. May 15, 2014. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Owen Kimbrel

The colonel described Navy and Marine Corps efforts to help subdue the wildfires using resources from military installations in the region.

"The Marine Corps is supporting the effort with five CH-53 Super Stallions and eight CH-46 Chinook helicopters," Warren said.

"The Navy provided six MH-60 Seahawk helicopters. Additionally, firefighters from Navy bases at Coronado, San Diego, Point Loma [and] El Centro are supporting neighboring civilian firefighters with five trucks and approximately 50 personnel."

A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, collects water in a Bambi bucket during aerial firefighting efforts in California, May 14, 2014. Aircraft from the 3rd MAW are partnered with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to conduct aerial firefighting against several wildfires ablaze in San Diego County. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Carl Atherton

Warren also noted the wildfires have affected military installations, personnel and families in the region, forcing evacuations.

"One fire line, known as the Tomahawk fire line, has caused closures and evacuations of portions of Camp Pendleton and Naval Weapon Station Fallbrook," he said. "To date, 356 families have been evacuated to shelters on other parts of Camp Pendleton. More than 6,300 acres on Camp Pendleton have burned so far."

More than 380 civilian and military firefighters are engaged in fighting that fire, the colonel said.

Marines and a fire crew respond to wildfires ablaze on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., May 15, 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 on and off base. Aircraft from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the Camp Pendleton Fire Department worked with state officials to prevent fires from spreading off base. DOD photo

Marines assist in efforts to contain the Cocos fire in San Marcos, Calif., May 15, 2014. The Marines, assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, partnered with state officials to conduct aerial firefighting against several wildfires ablaze in San Diego County. DOD photo

Marines assist in efforts to contain the Cocos fire in San Marcos, Calif., May 15, 2014. The Marines, assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, partnered with state officials to conduct aerial firefighting against several wildfires ablaze in San Diego County. DOD photo

Marines assist in efforts to contain the Cocos fire in San Marcos, Calif., May 15, 2014. The Marines, assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, partnered with state officials to conduct aerial firefighting against several wildfires ablaze in San Diego County. DOD photo

(Follow Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallAFPS)