Small Calif. fire forces evacuation at Marine base

Saturday - 10/5/2013, 11:50pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Fierce winds stoked several small fires across Southern California on Saturday, forcing 260 residents and hospital patients to evacuate at a military base, causing a key freeway junction to shut down and damaging cars and homes.

A fire at the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton forced 230 residents to evacuate from a housing unit near Lake O'Neil and caused minor damage to four buildings, base officials said. Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton was not threatened by the fire, but a power outage prompted officials to evacuate about 30 patients to other hospitals in the area and stop accepting new patients.

The blaze charred about 250 acres, sending smoke across northern San Diego County.

In northern Los Angeles County, traffic in the Newhall Pass came to a standstill when a 15-acre broke out on a hillside north of the junction of Interstate 5 and State Route 14. The freeways were closed in all directions for about 90 minutes, according to City News Service.

Wind gusts of 65 mph were reported near the area of the fire.

To the west in Ventura County, a semi truck went off U.S. 101 in Oxnard and crashed into a car dealership parking lot, causing a fire that spread to several vehicles in the lot, officials said.

The truck driver said wind was a factor in the crash, Oxnard police Cmdr. Martin Myer said. He said strong winds also fanned a fire Friday night that destroyed four buildings in an Oxnard complex and displaced 78 people.

In Orange County, winds knocked down a power line in Tustin Saturday morning, touching off several small brush fires that caused damage to one home, fire officials said.

The winds also shut down the annual Tustin Tiller Days festival early, the Orange County Register reported. Tents, tables and trash cans were getting blown away, and an 8-year-old girl suffered a minor head injury when a plastic panel came off of a carousel ride.

The powerful Santa Anas kicked up late Friday and a National Weather Service red flag warning of extreme fire danger for the entire region says the wind event will last until Sunday evening.

The weather service called the situation the region's "most significant fire weather threat in the past five years." Temperatures were unseasonably high, reaching in the 90s in many coastal communities, with humidity levels in the single digits.


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