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Oct 29, 2010 9:30 PM by Monica Quintero

Bear Creek Fire 50 percent contained

The Bear Creek Fire at Vandenberg Air Force Base continues to burn hundreds of acres. The fire has burned around 700 acres. It's now 50 percent contained and winds have died down in the area. The fire started Thursday afternoon off of Bear Creek Road east of Arguello Boulevard. An arcing power line has been identified as the cause of the fire.

Lieutenant Ann Blodzinski, Deputy Chief of Public Affairs of Vandenberg Air Force Base, said, "We're purposely burning that area right now so nobody should be alarmed when they see that." The large plume of smoke can be seen for miles. It's much larger than the day before. But fire crews say they're working with the fire trying to direct it where they want it.

Tim Baal, Santa Barbara County Fire, said, "They'll see a lot of smoke but it's all controlled. It's fire that's being applied on the ground and the fire is being put on the ground in order to establish control lines."

Still their top concern is safety. Unexploded devices from World War II are still buried in the ground. Baal said, "We cannot actually put crew on the fire's edge as normal. We're working from a dozer line, existing roads and burning out from those roads and not putting personnel at risk, that's our number one issue is safety of our personnel."

Lt. Blodzinski said, "These training areas still have these devices. It's quite expensive and a long process to clean them up. That is happening in certain areas of the base but it hasn't happened in this area."

Vandenberg says for the most part, it's been business as usual at the base. However, some people couldn't get into portions of the south base. The base expects the fire to be fully contained by the end of the day on Friday.

As for the rocket launch scheduled for Sunday night, Vandenberg says it's still a go. About 170 emergency responders from various agencies have been helping to fight the fire. The base says no structures are threatened at this time.

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