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Published:May 13th, 2007 09:00 EST
Navy Assists in Catalina Wildfire

Navy Assists in Catalina Wildfire

By SOP newswire

CATALINA ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- Sailors of Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 from Camp Pendleton, Calif., are currently assisting Southern California firefighters in battling a wildfire that broke out on Santa Catalina Island May 10.

So far, the fire has claimed more than 4,000 acres on the 76-square-mile island and has consumed several campground buildings and one residential house.

ACU-5 Sailors have been working nonstop loading and off-loading fire engines, fire equipment, and working with more than 500 firefighters from Los Angeles County, Orange County, and the California Department of Forestry.

“I can’t say enough about all the help the Navy has given us," said Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Andrew Olvera. “The use of the LCACs (landing craft air cushions) has been a vital part of our operation."

“We’re just here to help and we’ll do what we can to save this island," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Patrick Gradert of Beach Master Unit (BMU) 1.

“It really makes me proud of the armed aorces of the United States and what they’re able to do," said Fire Capt. Larry Tucker of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Approximately 3,300 people have been temporarily evacuated from Catalina Island, which is located approximately 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. Several thousand residents populate the island, but as a popular tourist resort, it also hosts more than 1 million guests annually.

For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephanie Tigner, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific