Multiple homes along the southern California coastline have been engulfed in flames as a fire sweeps through the Laguna Niguel area.
At least 20 residences in the city were set alight on Wednesday and the Orange County Fire Authority called for homes in the area to be evacuated and dubbed it the “Coastal Fire.”
“The area north of the intersection of Flying Cloud Drive Pacific Island Drive to the intersection of Highlands Avenue and Pacific Island Drive is under Mandatory Evacuation Order,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement posted on its website.
“The area south of Flying Cloud Drive and Pacific Island Drive to the intersection of Pacific Island Drive and Crown Valley Parkway is under a Voluntary Evacuation Warning.”
The Orange County Fire Authority’s Twitter page, OCFA PIO, addressed the scale of the fire.
“Coastal Fire is now at approximately 195 acres. We are currently working on putting together property damage assessment teams to start inspecting fire damages,” the page wrote in a tweet in the late hours of Wednesday.
In a follow-up tweet, the Twitter page announced that a news conference would be held at 8.30 a.m. local time on Thursday to give a further update.
As well warning against the dangers of the blaze, the fire authority warned of smoke inhalation and other health risks.
“Smoke from the Coastal Fire may pose a health danger to some Orange County residents, especially those in certain high-risk groups. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a Smoke Advisory for Orange County in the Saddleback Valley, Central Coastal area, and Capistrano Valley where monitors currently report an Air Quality Index of good to moderate levels,” the statement said.
“Everyone should take precautions to stay cool and drink plenty of water to reduce health risks related to the heat and wildfire smoke,” said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, County Health Officer.
“Additional precautions are especially needed for older adults, those with pre-existing medical conditions like heart or lung disease, those with disabilities, children, and those who may be working outdoors.”
The Orange County Fire Authority said that the blaze broke out mid-afternoon near a water treatment plant located between Laguna Niguel and the coastal community of Laguna Beach.
Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy told KABC that homes that had been touched by the fire were likely destroyed beyond repair.
“It’s all about defending the homes that have not already burned,” Fennessy told the station from the scene of the fire. “The firefighters behind me are really putting on an aggressive fight.”
During an update at around 7:30 p.m. local time, Fennessy said that he expected a “minimum” of around 20 homes had been destroyed or damaged, while expressing reluctance to provide an exact number.
Hoping Winds Will Die Down
The Fifth District Supervisor for Orange County, Lisa Bartlett, also commented on the destroyed homes and the fire.
“It’s so heartbreaking,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, whose district includes Laguna Niguel, according to a LA Times report.
“When you take a look at the size of the homes, there’s just so much combustible material that they burn fast, and then the wind starts and the flames can just leap from house to house.
“We’re hoping as the evening hours approach that the winds will die down and firefighters can really get in there and do their work.
“The visibility is not great with the winds, but I know our firefighters are doing virtually everything they can on the ground and from the air.”
Newsweek has contacted the Orange County Fire Authority for comment.
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