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Corps looking into ruptured gas line as source of AAV fire hospitalizing Marines

Photo by Cpl. Mark Stroud

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eight  were rushed to a San Diego burn center and seven others were also hospitalized after their amphibious vehicle caught fire during a training exercise at a military base.

Three of the  were listed in critical condition Wednesday afternoon at the Burn Center at the University of California San Diego Health and five were in serious condition, the  Corps said in a statement. Four other  were rushed to the University of California Irvine Medical Center in nearby Orange County, including two in critical condition there.

Another  at a hospital in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla was in stable condition and two others were treated for minor injuries at a Navy hospital at Camp .

According to Fox News, the number of injured Marines was increased to fifteen on Friday. One of their sources close to the investigation claims the fire did not start from inside the amphibious assault vehicle, as had been originally reported.

“The fire did not start inside the vehicle,” the U.S. military official said, who instead believes bad luck contributed to the incident.

It is believed the Marines ran over an underground gas pipeline, ruptured it, which somehow started a fire aboard the vehicle.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the  and their families affected by this incident,” a  Corps statement said.

The  from the 1st Battalion, 1st  Regiment and 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion were conducting a combat readiness evaluation as part of their battalion training at about 9:30 a.m. on a beach at Camp   Corps base, north of San Diego, when the amphibious vehicle ignited, said  1st Lt. Paul Gainey.

According to a defense official who was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly, so spoke on condition of anonymity, the amphibious vehicle got stuck and then caught fire as the  were trying to free it.

The command is investigating the cause of the incident. Gainey said he had no further information to release at this time.

The armored vehicle is used to carry  and their equipment from Navy ships onto land. It resembles a tank and travels through water before coming ashore. It has been used in the  Corps since the 1970s.

In 2013, a 21-year-old Camp   died and four others were injured when ordnance ignited an amphibious assault vehicle during a training exercise at  Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, in the California desert. The  Corps has since developed a safer mine clearing system for its amphibious assault vehicles.

USMC LIFE contributed to this report

Associated Press writer Lolita Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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