CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Camp Pendleton Fire Department and Cal Fire worked together to fight the Creek Fire that blazed in Fallbrook and the installation beginning Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020.
By Saturday evening, the fire was 90 percent contained and over 4,200 acres. The fire initially posed a threat to eastern areas of base. However, through firefighting strategies of back burns and control lines, by 5 p.m. on Dec. 24, the fire no longer posed any threat to structures.
Residents living in the Lake O’Neill Campground, O’Neill Heights, Wounded Warrior Battalion, and De Luz base housing areas were ordered to evacuate early Thursday morning. They gathered at Paige Fieldhouse where they awaited updates and heard from Brig. Gen. Dan Conley, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
“While neither one of the housing areas are threatened right now, out of an abundance of caution, we don’t want to put folks [back in their homes],” Conley said to the evacuees. “We don’t want to put folks in. The winds shift, and then we got really bad problems.”
Volunteers with the United Service Organization were present at the shelter location, distributing food and gifts to evacuees. Santa Claus made an appearance as well to raise spirits, arriving in his Camp Pendleton Fire Department firetruck to visit the children.
“I appreciate the fire department, Santa, and all the volunteers for coming out and trying to make this something more than just sitting around in a parking lot,” Conley said of their efforts.
Evacuees were then cleared by CPFD and Cal Fire to return to their homes Thursday evening, as the fire had been quickly contained from reaching any structures.
Camp Pendleton Fire Department and Cal Fire worked together non-stop to contain the fire and prevent it from reaching more populated areas. Fire fighting helicopters were cleared to conduct operations on base Friday morning.
Firefighters were able to hold the perimeter, preventing any increase in acreage. Cal Fire Capt. Thomas Shoots said the weather was cooperative and that calm winds helped crews keep this perimeter strong.
The Creek Fire was 70 percent contained by Saturday morning, and 90 percent contained by the evening. Outside resources from off-base fire departments were released at this point and the unified command terminated. Camp Pendleton Fire Department took charge of patrols from this point onward.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.