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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.

  • vetww2

    We refuse to learn, Have you wondered why Russia, with all the forest land has not had this plague of fires? The answer is, The Beriev A200 seaplane, water bomber. It loads 3000 gallons of water, in 3 tanks, in 20, YES 20 secomds. It flies at 200 KTS. It can dispense all at once or sequentially, as shower or a spray, with or without chemicals. I flew it in 2006 at Anepa during the Gidroaveosolan (seaplane) conference, where I was a guest of the Govt. and Beriev, due to the fact that I was the experimental aerodynamicist on P6M, our 4 jet seaplane. back in the 50s. Upon returning home, I attempted, Pro Bono, to get the Interior Dept. and California to Buy or rent a few and try them out. No one home.

    I see that the powers to be have, finally convinced themselves that 55 gallon helo drops and 3 hour to load chemical aircraft sprayers are not the answer, so they are going to 10,000 gallon 747 tankers. A great step forward, but it takes 4 hours to load. In that time a BE200 could drop 21,000 gallons of fresh water, on a California fire, loading at Lake Mead or, if salt water is OK, as at Pt. Mugu, over 50,000 gallons loading in the Pacific
    .
    Incidentally, the Canadians also have a seaplane water bomber, the Canadair 400, with less capacity and the Japanese have one, too

    • clauso121

      Do they also have Santa Ana type winds there? Because Santa Ana winds is what makes the fire fighting effort so difficult in CA and the fires so deadly. Santa Ana winds can produce sustained winds of 80+ mph and gusts of 150+ mph with super low humidity for days. You are suggesting firefighters should fly a jetliner full of water through a Cat 1-2 Hurricane type winds.

      • vetww2

        Very good point. I had a lab in San Diego and have spent time there. Sometimeds at a friends house in Santa Barbara, adjacent to the Getty property. The Santa Ana winds caused a fire, once when I was there, The Getty fire brigade was right there to handle it. My point is If you react fast enough, with enough water, you solve the problem. On another point with the Santa Ana winds. Pre-wetting is a great, low cost, deterrent, With a water bomber on wide spray, it deters fires and just feels like light rain on the ground. In fact, this cooling effect reduces the incidence of winds, according to the implied California weather bureau’s statements regarding the inducing of the winds. But, you are correct.The dangers of flying during the wind event, must be considered.
        The fire fighting industry bears responsibility in this area.

    • vetww2

      Years ago, after my attempt, the Canadians offerred to rent 3 of their water bombers to California, for one megabuck, but the firefighting industry convinced their Ag dept. not to accept the offer. CRIMINAL.

  • vetww2

    I find flying a seaplane easier than landplanes, BECAUSE:
    1. You can take off and land DIRECTLY into the wind.
    2. No crosswind adjustment (crabbing). Especially nice in higher wind landings. I once flew with an expert Alaskan seaplane bush pilot who set the plane (a DeHavilland Beaver floatplane) down, with almost no landing run, into a 60 MPH Willawaw.
    3. Higher speed landings rerduce all wind (resultant vector) effects
    4. Elinminates landing gear(and tire) failures.
    Ask any seaplane (or float) pilot.
    Happy Landings,
    CAVU