Marine Charged in Fire That Forced Thousands Out

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Kimberly Bachman

Two brush fires merged to create a nearly 4,000-acre fire that threatened Oceanside unlike any other in recent history on October 13, 2008. Now, an investigation connects one of those fires to a Marine. He's accused of starting the fire during a Marine training exercise where no ordnance was used.

The Juliett fire erupted that October afternoon in hot, dry conditions. Aircraft attacked the flames and firefighters set backfires, working through the night to slow the fire’s advance. Part of the base and the base's golf course were evacuated as a precaution. Smoke could be seen in neighboring counties. Some people in Los Angeles even called 911 to report the smell of smoke.

The Juliett Fire did not cause any injuries or damage to buildings on the base. It was fully surrounded about 16 hours after it began.

In a memo released Wednesday outlining the results of an investigation by the Navy Criminal Investigative Serivce, the Marines announced Lance Corporal Nason G. Lamb will face charges of damage to military property, reckless endangerment and setting fire to U.S. property for his role in starting one of the fires that fueled the Juliett Fire.

LCpl. Lamb is accused of starting the second fire during an exercise in the Juliett Training Area. This fire started just before 3 p.m. that day and was possibly the only source of fire that threatened areas of Fallbrook and Oceanside in the Morrow Hill area, according to the release.

The special court-martial convening authority is convening an Article 32 Investigation, which will provide a recommendation as to whether charges should be referred to a court-martial.

The first fire which started at approximately 2:20 p.m. northwest of Morrow Hill and threatened the Serra Mesa and San Luis Rey housing areas as well as the off-base neighborhoods is still under investigation, investigators said.

No evidence has been found to indicate arson but natural causes and military training exercises have been ruled out as causes, according to the release.

LCpl. Lamb has been charged is currently assigned to the I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. 

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