Crews mop up Cristianitos Fire; full containment expected Saturday

SAN ONOFRE, Calif. -- Fire crews carried out mop-up operations Friday, guarding against flareups at the site of a wildfire that has charred 760 acres in northwestern Camp Pendleton and the southern reaches of neighboring Orange County, and they hope to have the blaze completely contained on Saturday.

As of 9:30 a.m., the "Cristianitos Fire'' was 95 percent contained, Cal Fire  said. Firefighters are now in the "mop-up stage'' and expect the containment level "to slowly start creeping closer to 100 percent.''

"We're working the perimeter of the fire, hosing it down about 50 feet in from the perimeter,'' Kurtz said. "What we don't want are any hot spots flaring up. We have to make sure we get every ember out.''

More than 350 military and civilian firefighters helped battle the blaze when it ignited about 6 p.m. Wednesday, but Kurtz said crews and firefighting instruments "will begin disappearing today'' as they finish getting it under containment.

"There's not really a timetable to have it 100 percent contained,'' Kurtz said. ''But we are hoping for later on this afternoon or this evening.''

The blaze has not caused any injuries nor did it damage any structures or prompt mandatory evacuations, though several homes and an animal shelter were threatened before firefighters were able to stop the spread. The homes that had been most at risk were located off Avenida Vista Montana and Avenida La Pata in San Clemente.

An estimated three-quarters of the burn area was within the boundaries of Camp Pendleton, said USMC Capt. Brian Villiard, a spokesman for the northern San Diego County military base. The cause of the fire, which posed no structural threats at the USMC installation, is still under investigation.