Marine Corps investigators are trying to determine whether one of dozens of practice campfires being set by Marine mountain warfare trainees started a 10,000-acre-plus Sierra wildfire.
Marine Lieutenant Tara Burkhart confirmed that 35 trainees were undergoing survival training in a remote section of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest where the wildfire erupted on Saturday.
Burkhart also said the trainees and their instructors in the 12th day of an 18-day survival course, tried to control the wildfire but had to pull back as it started to spread beyond the area that´s off limits to all but the Marines.
As part of the Marines´ survival course, each trainee had to dig a foot-deep hole in a cleared area, start a fire in the hole, boil a cup of water, and then put out the fire with canteen water, ensuring embers were cool to the touch. The holes were then filled in with dirt.
The Marines´ Mountain Warfare Training Center provides punishing high-altitude combat and survival training for more than 10,000 Marines a year. It´s the only high-altitude military training base in the United States.