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California Wildfire Forces Evacuation of Point Mugu, Threatens Communication Sites

Point Mugu, Calif. US Navy Photo

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Naval Air Station Point Mugu remained under mandatory evacuation orders Friday morning as a raging wildfire was burning in the hills near the Southern California base and threatened a key naval communications site.

The so-called Hill Fire, which sparked Thursday afternoon, was raging Friday morning along both sides of Highway 101 in Camarillo, northeast of Point Mugu. Fire officials said that red-flag warnings, along with low humidity levels driven by the notorious Santa Ana winds blowing from the inland deserts, would continue into late Friday night.

“The fire is threatening homes, commercial property, electrical infrastructure and a Navy satellite communication site on Laguna Peak,” the Ventura County Fire Department said in a Friday morning update report.

Atop Laguna Peak, in the steep hills just east of the air station, is large communication and radar site used by air operations and the Navy’s vast inland and offshore range complex.

The mandatory evacuation of Point Mugu, issued late Thursday by NBVC officials and posted on the command’s official Facebook page, followed an earlier voluntary evacuation order. All personnel were evacuated by 10:30 p.m., NBVC commander, Capt. Jeff Chism, said in a video update posted Friday morning on the command’s official Facebook page.
“The base is not in immediate risk of danger,” he said.

Nov. 9, 2018 photo from NBVC Point Mugu quarterdeck. US Navy Photo

The evacuation of Point Mugu, issued late Thursday by NBVC officials and posted on the command’s official Facebook page, followed an earlier voluntary evacuation order. The air station is home to several units including E-2C Hawkeye aircraft with four carrier airborne early warning squadrons, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division-Point Mugu, which manages the sea ranges, Naval Test Wing-Pacific.

The Hill fire, covering 6,100 acres as of 7 a.m., was largely holding as firefighting crews on the ground and water-dropping aircraft continued to attack the fire, VCFD officials said in a mid-morning update. Another fire, the Woolsey Fire, also started Thursday near Thousand Oaks and was burning across the 10d1 and hills toward Malibu and the Pacific coast.