Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fire at El Toro Base (Part 2)

15 November 2007: It has been little over a month since the Santiago Canyon Wildfires torched the northern property of the former MCAS El Toro and Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) return back to the base--no need to afraid--this time the fire was planned by firefighter officials. The ATM annex building of the Marine Exchange was the location of a controlled fire and a mock rescue operation. Just outside the building, you can notice another rescue operation of a simulated car crash. The rubble of the Base Commissary can be seen in the far left background and the Marine Exchange is located off to the right.

Fire at El Toro Base Part 2 - 11/15/07 02

Monday, October 22, 2007

Santiago Canyon Wildfire vs. MCAS El Toro

22 October 2007: On Sunday evening the nearby hills of Santiago Canyon became the latest victim to fire, adding to the already mounting number of wildfires throughout Southern California. El Toro Base is situated no less than five miles from the burning carnage. The sky was painted with orange, gray, and brown as smoke loomed overhead. Gusty winds and ash particulates which made the air difficult to breathe forced the city to shut down the base on Monday. All operations were closed for the day (which include Montessori Daycare, Lennar/Great Park offices, All-Star RV Storage, Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) extension classes, and base demolition). I believe this was the first time the entire base was shut down since it first re-opened to the public back in 2000/01.

Santiago Canyon Wildfire vs. MCAS El Toro - 10/22/07 01

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Aviation Training Pool

20 October 2007: I thought we'd do something a little different this time. The previous posts have been about current changes and happenings on the old El Toro Marine base. But once in a while it would be nice to post older photographs that have been taken around the base--ok, not that old, but pictures that capture how the base look before demolition.

Aviation Training Pool - 7/10/07 - 05

Aviation Training Pool - 7/10/07 - 03
Here you'll find photographs of the Aviation Training Pool (Bldg. 639) from different locations. A former Marine stationed at El Toro told me this is probably where aviation personnel practiced how to swim in the event that their plane would crash over a body of water. I initially though Cal State Fullerton (who has an extension campus in some of the old base buildings) was using this building as well because it did not look old and deteriorated. I imagine this was built during the 1980's when MCAS El Toro underwent upgrades and new building construction.
Aviation Training Pool - 7/10/07 - 04
[Note: These photographs were taken on 10 July 2007 of the indoor Aviation Training Pool building, located just past the Commanding Officer's building and across the street from Communications Building on Trabuco Rd. x Marine Way. As of October 2007 the area has been gated off in preparation for demolition.]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

El Toro Base Commissary: Checkin' Out (Part 3)

25 Sept. 2007: Demolition continues at the former El Toro Base Commissary. I've included zoomed in photographs to get a glimpse of the building's interior and a short video clip of the area.

MCAS El Toro Commissary - 9/25/07 - 01

MCAS El Toro Commissary - 9/25/07 - 02

MCAS El Toro Commissary - 9/25/07 - 03

Monday, September 24, 2007

El Toro Base Commissary: Checkin' Out (Part 2)

24 Sept. 2007: I couldn't fathom the sight of the Commissary with a gaping hole. Deep down inside of me I still like to imagine that the Commissary & Marine Exchange will never go away.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

MCAS El Toro General Housing - Grande Finale

11 Sept. 2007: I was taken by surprise on an overcast morning at the former El Toro Marine base as I drove by the old general housing community. I was shocked to see that nearly all the homes and the asphalt + concrete which it stood beneath had all been razed. Note I say "nearly" here because one lone home still stood bravely all along amidst a sea of dirt and rubble (see above).

What really took me off guard was just how fast everything was uprooted and demolished. It may have been just a little over two weeks ago when I last passed through and noticed the homes and streets looking only somewhat untouched. As I gazed at the surreal sight on that somber morning, I reminded myself of the 9-11 attacks (which had passed exactly six years ago) and the countless number of Marines and their families that are enduring the two wars that are currently being fought overseas.

MCAS El Toro General Housing - 09/11/07 - 03

MCAS El Toro General Housing - 09/11/07 - 02

MCAS El Toro General Housing - 09/11/07 - 04

Note: These photos were taken on 09-11-2007 of the El Toro base general housing project, located directly behind the base's commanding officer's office, just to the right of the base's Main Gate entrance. I will try to post some older pictures of the same area to get a better idea of how it looked while it was still there.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

El Toro Base Commissary: Checkin' Out (Part 1)

30 Aug. 2007: Construction crews have been preparing the demolition of the base commissary and exchange in the past months. First the weed and overgrown shrubbery in the surrounding parking lot were mowed. Next, the main entrance of the commissary was knocked open and large appliances were taken out. Although the commissary is being razed as I type this, I thought I'd share the last photographs taken of the building when it was standing.

The base commissary and the exchange were the first sights of MCAS El Toro that greeted incoming Marines, their families, and visitors approaching the El Toro main gate. After the base closed in 1999, there was a brief initiative by local veterans to re-open the commissary to help provide discounted goods and services to nearby veterans. The plan failed to gain support from county and state politicians and now the commissary makes its last stand before succumbing to its inevitable fate.

MCAS El Toro Commissary - 8/30/07 - 01

MCAS El Toro Commissary - 8/30/07 - 02