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CA fire contained

BY SUSAN KIM | FALLBROOK, CA | February 12, 2002


"The fire happened right when church was getting out Sunday so the churches went into action right away."

—Kate Prest


A fire that burned at least 36 homes north of San Diego has been contained, according to fire officials.

Fueled by 30-mph Santa Ana winds and 15-foot brush, the blaze burned 3,500 acres, incinerating homes and avocado groves. The community of Fallbrook was hardest hit.

More than 700 firefighters battled the blaze.

The fire burned onto the edge of Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps training facility. The base stretches for 125,000 acres along the coastline.

Some 100 people were forced to flee their homes. Three shelters were set up Sunday in the Fallbrook High School, Boys and Girls Club, and recreation center.

The shelter at the high school was taking in animals. Fallbrook is horse country, and horses from evacuated homes were being kept in a nearby field.

The American Red Cross was tending to people's emergency needs.

Local pastors were visiting evacuation centers to offer spiritual care for evacuees, said Kate Prest of the Fallbrook Presbyterian Church.

"The fire happened right when church was getting out Sunday so the churches went into action right away," she said.

Prest said that the Fallbrook Ministerial Alliance was very active, and that the close relationship local pastors of many denominations share would help them plan a coordinated response.

The fire's onset was so rapid that many people fled into the streets. Eleven people were treated for minor injuries or smoke inhalation.

Wind gusts over the weekend in southern California reached 100 mph.

Fallbrook is about 60 miles north of San Diego and 85 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The area has not burned for 50 years.

The fire came within 500 yards of housing at the Naval Weapons Station in Fallbrook, and the housing area was evacuated.

Station spokesman Gregg Smith said that ammunition on the base was stored inside structures that can withstand fire.


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