Naval Base Under Threat in Raging California Wildfire

Mike O'Brien

A raging wildfire along the Pacific Coast highway, northwest of Los Angeles in California, forced thousands of residents to flee the area and came perilously close to Naval Base Ventura County.

The huge flames jumped the iconic roadway, which served as the final barrier between the fire and the facility, on Friday morning.

The base’s Facebook page kept personnel informed of the danger and at 11am it advised that the airfield at Point Mugu remained open on a mission-essential basis and had not been evacuated.

The naval base, which faces the Pacific, has a population of more than 19,000 personnel, operates two runways, a sea-test range and deep-water port.

Base personnel were being advised to stay indoors. Photos on the site showed smoke darkening the skies, but residents were told the housing area had not yet been affected.

More than 10,000 acres of brush-covered terrain have been burned by the fire that began during the morning rush hour near the major highway and commuter route into Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley on Thursday, USA Today reports.

As the flames raced toward Malibu, at least 15 houses were badly damaged. By early Friday morning, the blaze had been about 10 percent contained, but winds gusting up to 45mph were not helping efforts.

Tom Kruschke, Ventura County fire spokesman, said the cause of the fire is under investigation. High winds, high temperatures, low humidity, plus dry vegetation from the winter drought "adds up to a perfect storm for wildfire,'' he said, adding: "We're going to be at Mother Nature's mercy."

(U.S. Navy Photo by Vance Vasquez)