Fire Breaks Out at Base in Afghanistan

By Alicia Dean
|  Sunday, May 16, 2010  |  Updated 12:45 PM PDT
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Fire Breaks Out at Base in Afghanistan

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CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN - MARCH 09: (FRANCE OUT) U.S. Marines wait at sunrise for a helicopter March 9, 2010 at Camp Leatherneck, the Marines main base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Operations are ongoing in the nearby town of Marjah to restore stability after a month-long offensive to oust Taliban militants. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Crews are keeping an eye on hot spots left over from a fire that broke out in a supply area on Camp Leatherneck  in Afghanistan's Helmand Province on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, a public affairs officer with the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD), told NBCSanDiego that the fire was started in an area of the base under heavy construction and that crews from Camp Bastion are assisting in the firefighting effort. He said that no lives were in immediate danger.

"We do have some residents who have been evacuated as a precaution," said Hughes who stressed that the evacuations were part of normal fire safety operating procedures. "We're sure people in Southern California can understand that."

Hughes said the fire is concentrated in an area where supply and storage lot facilities are located. One firefighter is being treated for smoke inhalation.

The blaze is not impacting daily military operations, officials said. The Marine Corps scrambled to get news of the fire out to Southern California news media to try to limit any concerns that loved ones might have had after hearing about the incident through third-hand sources.

"We had someone call home and say the chow hall is on fire," Hughes said. "The chow hall is not on fire."

Right now, just under 20,000 U.S. Marines and sailors are in southern Helmand Province as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Nearly half of those Marines are based at Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and Twenty-Nine Palms. Camp Pendleton-based two-star MajGen. Richard Mills assumed authority as commanding general of expanded combat operations in the area last month as part of the troop surge ordered by Pres. Barack Obama.
 

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