CAMP PENDLETON - Camp Pendleton firefighters, aided by Cal Fire counterparts and others from around the area, continued to cut fire lines on Sunday around a blaze that consumed more than 2,500 acres and forced overnight evacuation of the post hospital.
About 230 residents of the O'Neill Heights housing area were evacuated to the Paige Fieldhouse, base officials said.
At 5 p.m. Sunday, displaced Marines and their families will be allowed to return to the housing area via Santa Margarita Road leading to Sequoia and Pusan roads, although emergency vehicles will remain in the area.
Residents were advised to report property damage resulting from the fire to their property managers. Base officials said there was no fire threat to the nearby De Luz housing area.
Roughly 30 patients of the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton were evacuated to area hospitals, but the base hospital had resumed normal operations Sunday morning, Marines said.
The fire, dubbed the De Luz Fire, was 20 percent contained as of 8:00 p.m. Sunday, base officials said.
Officials anticipate minimal fire movement and expect to contain the fire by Tuesday, October 8.
No one was injured in the fire, which was reported about 12:45 p.m. Saturday near Lake O'Neill, close to the center of the post, according to the officials. Traffic on Interstate 5 slowed as smoke rose above the freeway, 55 miles north of San Diego.
The fire also was visible in Fallbrook and other areas in North County, authorities said.
Bonsall resident Lacie Imhoff was shocked to see ash in the air.
"I've never been where there's ashes falling on you," she said. "The fact that it’s in Fallbrook it can still move. We've seen California fires before where it moved."
Fallbrook resident Regina Rakowski cancelled all her dinner plans for the evening to stay at home with her daughter and her pets.
"I was supposed to go to dinner in San Clemente tonight, but with this fire, it’s pretty scary," she said. "Two hundred twenty homes about 3 miles from my house burnt last time. I'm going to stay tight and stay here and make sure it doesn’t come this way."
The Temecula Valley filled with smoke as well.
Camp Pendleton firefighters were dispatched to battle the blaze, as were Cal Fire engines, air tankers and a helicopter, according to base officials and Cal Fire.
Oceanside resident Walter Nowosad recorded the fire on his camera.
He says he feels better knowing there are so many agencies assisting with the fire.
"Fortunately, the base has coupled itself with the state of California, allowing them to come on board and help them control the fires," he told 10News.
Mark Griggs was watching from the same vantage point in Oceanside but felt a little less optimistic.
"I was in the 2003 Cedar fire in El Cajon and so I kind of understand what can happen," he said. "It's October, it was 2007, it was October when they had the fires in 2003, it was October as well, so, could be another one."
There is no word yet on what caused the fire.
Four buildings had minor damage, according to a post on the Camp Pendleton Scout Facebook page.
The Bark Avenue resort and camp in Oceanside will accept pets of Camp Pendleton fire evacuees free of charge. People dropping off pets should call (760) 433-3763 before coming. The facility is located at 655 Benet Rd. in Oceanside.