Laguna Niguel fire: 20 homes destroyed, 11 others damaged as 200-acre blaze forces evacuations


LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (KABC) – At least 20 homes were destroyed and 11 were damaged by a brush fire in Laguna Niguel that spread quickly amid high winds, and crews continued to battle the flames Thursday .

The fire, called Coastal Fire, broke out Wednesday afternoon between Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach near a water treatment plant, according to the Orange County Fire Authority, and erupted quickly.

At a Thursday afternoon news conference, firefighters said the blaze had burned about 200 acres and was 15% contained. The evacuations issued will remain in place overnight.

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Southern California Edison said it sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission informing them of “circuit activity” at the time of the fire. has been reported. It’s unclear if that means there was a downed power line, but a South Laguna Beach resident told Eyewitness News the power went out moments before she apparently started hearing sirens. respond to the fire.

Some 900 homes remained under mandatory evacuation orders, according to Deputy Fire Chief TJ McGovern.

“We had some wind, which is a normal wind condition for this area,” McGovern said. “Since it started at the bottom of the drainage, it started going up the canyon and up the slope. Throwing wind on it, and the terrain – its slope, was a bad recipe.”

These ordinances affect homes south of Flying Cloud Drive and Pacific Island Drive to the intersection of Pacific Island Drive. Crown Valley Parkway is under a voluntary evacuation warning.

Another mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the area north of the intersection of Flying Cloud Drive and Pacific Island Drive to the intersection of Highlands Avenue and Pacific Island Drive. Meanwhile, an evacuation warning issued for the Balboa Nyes (Portafina) neighborhood has since been lifted.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing a grant to California that will secure additional resources and financial assistance to fight the fire, according to the governor’s office.

As firefighters worked to extinguish major hot spots on Wednesday, Orange County Fire Authority Fire Chief Brian Fennessy said high winds were blowing embers into attics, making their passage more difficult.

“You have to remember that this fire was caused by the wind,” Fennessy said at a press conference Wednesday night. “We’ve got embers thrown really deep into those canyons, a lot of them into those palm trees. We had embers in our attics, through vents. The goal is to get into those homes and really throw a punch Peek into those attics, down into the vegetation, to really make sure we don’t leave any burning embers in place.”

McGovern said a firefighter was injured on Wednesday and taken to hospital. A second of the firefighters was reported injured on Thursday, but both were treated and released.

Meanwhile, Elaine Gennawey, mayor of Laguna Niguel, said the city’s water district had sent out an alert asking residents to reduce their water usage.

An evacuation center has also been established for those seeking assistance.

Area residents can visit the Crown Valley Community Center at 29751 Crown Valley Parkway for assistance. The Orange County Emergency Operations Center has also set up a public information hotline to answer questions from residents. You can reach them at 714-628-7085.

Coastal fire: Multiple homes engulfed in flames as Laguna Niguel blaze explodes in size

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