So. Calif. Fire Season Rages–Army Responds

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So. Cal.–Sierra Del Mar

MALIBU–Captain Don Gilger, Southern California divisional youth and candidates secretary, oversees meal service to firefighters at Camp Mt. Crags. The Army served more than 2500 meals and housed 550 firefighters and relief personnel at camp during the recent fires.

Photo by Greg Epstein


Fueled by Santa Ana winds exceeding 70 miles per hour at times, firestorms roared across Malibu and parts of San Diego County, destroying more than 37,000 acres in all and 10 homes in Malibu and 76 homes in San Diego County.

At the height of the Malibu blaze, flames came within feet of the buildings at The Salvation Army’s Camp Gilmore–including Riley Hall–but didn’t physically damage the structures. The blaze burned from the east down to the Malibu Creek, which runs through the camp, stopping only a few feet from the command homes and the directors’ house.

Mt. Crags and Camp Gilmore Camp Directors Dave and Sarah Bentley report 100 foot flames towered only one quarter mile from the camp’s edge at the time of the camp’s evacuation.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, than 4,000 firefighters and 13 helicopters and water-dropping airplanes battled the wildfires. Camps Mt. Crags and Gilmore served as a base of operations for hundreds of firefighters, serving more than 2,500 meals to firefighters and relief personnel.

The camps are slated to house 550 strike team members through the week’s end as fire containment efforts in the area continue. Strike team members consist of firefighters, the California Conservation Corps (CCC), the Dept. of Forestry and other fire relief personnel.

“It’s been a harrowing experience for everyone involved,” stated Southern California Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred Van Cleef. “We have been committed to serving the firefighters and relief personnel for as long as needed, and they are committed in their efforts to save our camp, which has served more than 2,000 needy children and youth each summer for the past 57 years.”

Meanwhile, in the Sierra Del Mar Division, Salvation Army emergency disaster teams worked 24 hours a day in support of firefighters battling blazes in San Diego’s North County communities, including Escondido, San Marcos, and Carlsbad.

The Army provided fire victims with immediate assistance, including emergency food, clothing, comfort items and other material support. “The Salvation Army will remain on the scene as long as necessary to assist fire fighters and the victims of disaster,” said Lt. Colonel Donald Sather, Sierra Del Mar Divisional Commander.

Financial donations earmarked “California Fires” can be sent to local Salvation Army units.

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