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May 19, 2014

News Briefs May 19, 2014

Fire crews make progress on Camp Pendleton fires

Marine Corps officials say fire crews are continuing to make progress in battling three fires at Camp Pendleton.

Lt. Ryan Finnegan said May 18 that the largest fire has chewed through 15,000 acres and is 55 percent contained.

Finnegan says another fire that started at a Naval weapons facility has burned 5,400 acres and was 97 percent contained.

A third fire that broke out Thursday and scorched 1,500 acres was 80 percent contained.

Finnegan says most evacuation orders were being lifted.

The fires were among nearly a dozen fires that broke out in the San Diego area last week. The blazes have caused more than $20 million in damages, burning homes and businesses. AP

GOP leader to block military immigration measure

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he’ll block a vote on legislation giving a path to citizenship to people living here illegally who serve in the military.

The May 16 announcement from Cantor comes after a Republican congressman from California announced plans to try to bring the measure to a vote as an amendment to the annual defense bill.

The ENLIST Act championed by Rep. Jeff Denham would give green cards to immigrants living here illegally who serve in the military.

But conservative groups have recently announced their opposition. Cantor himself is facing a primary challenge from a tea party opponent who’s made immigration an issue.

Cantor’s spokesman, Doug Heye, says no amendment on the ENLIST Act will be allowed on the defense bill. AP

Central California base on track for fighter jet

A Central California Navy base is a signature away from becoming home to a new squadron of fighter jets.

A final environmental impact statement released Thursday named Lemoore Naval Air Station the preferred alternative to serve as the West Coast base for the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter jet. Lemoore, which is located 45 miles south of Fresno, was competing against El Centro Naval Air Facility in the Imperial Valley.

The Fresno Bee reports that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is expected to give his final approval to Lemoore by mid-June.

We are extremely excited for the installation and our surrounding communities, base commander Capt. Monty Ashliman told the newspaper.

The first F-35C fighter jets could arrive in August 2016, and by 2028, Lemoore could be home to 70 jets in addition to 30 others to make up a replacement squadron for training pilots and maintenance crews. The fighter jets will require up to 600 more uniformed personnel.

The base has been a historical center for the Navy’s West Coast fighter jet operations. The new jets will join the FA-18C Super Hornets squad at the base. Ashliman told the newspaper that, with the addition, 60 percent of the Navy’s fighter jets will be based in Lemoore.

Officials said the new squadron will give the region an economic boost.

It will essentially solidify the Navy presence in Kings County for decades to come, said John Lehn, president of the Kings County Economic Development Corporation.

The base employs 7,900 people from the aircraft hangars to the base hospital. Those employees live in surrounding communities and pump $1 billion annually into the economy, officials said.

The squadron will need new buildings for pilot training, administration, flight simulators and supplies.

This will create jobs, county Supervisor Doug Verboon said. There’s no telling where we can go from here. AP




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