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Camp Pendleton evacuation criticized

The top Marine Corps general got an earful of criticism and some thanks from Marine spouses Friday while touring Camp Pendleton, where fire disrupted training and forced evacuation of some 800 family members.

"We were evacuated at 2:30 a.m. and it was pretty much hysteria," one woman told Commandant Gen. James Conway during a question-and-answer session following his brief remarks. "Is there a standard emergency evacuation plan for the military?"

Another wife said she was given "way too much conflicting information" in the hours that preceded Wednesday morning's evacuation.

Conway deflected the questions to Col. James Seaton, commanding officer of the sprawling base.

"It wasn't perfect," Seaton said. "I apologize for having to wake you up at 2:30 a.m., but the winds were unpredictable."

Another military wife thanked the Marines for "an outstanding effort that went beyond the call of duty and I want to let you know my family is very appreciative of your efforts."

The Horno fire, which disrupted training for Marines set to deploy to Iraq, has burned 20,000 acres but was expected to be 100% contained by Friday night, a Cal Fire spokesman said.

-- David McKibben

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