LAGUNA NIGUEL (KUSI) — A wind and terrain-driven fire gnawed through at least 200 acres of brush in Aliso Wood Canyon between Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach on Wednesday, then marched relentlessly through a multi-million property enclave dollars on the hill overlooking the ocean, burning down at least 13 homes.
The coastal fire was reported at 2:44 p.m., Orange County Fire Authority Captain Sean Doran said. The fire originated near the coastal treatment plant of the South Orange County Wastewater Authority, which handles wastewater from the Laguna Beach area, said Orange County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Scott Steinle.
The fire was estimated at around three acres at 3:30 p.m., but had spread to at least 30 acres by 5 p.m. Thirty minutes later, the OCFA set fire to 150 acres without containment. Crews on site estimated the size at around 200 acres as of 6:15 p.m.
The flames spread rapidly as they moved through thick hillside brush, aided by ocean winds that ignited spot fires in front of the main blaze. The fire worked its way upward, advancing onto Aliso Summit Trail and into nearby multi-million dollar estates.
At least 13 homes were seen burning as flames reached a hilltop and advanced through an exclusive neighborhood, engulfing homes along La Vue and Coronado Pointe near the Aliso Summit Trail. Several houses were destroyed by the fire.
Sara Nuss-Galles, who lives on Via Estoril, told the Los Angeles Times she watched the fire grow for more than an hour before evacuating the area.
“My clothes smell of the hour I spent in the house,” Nuss-Galles told The Times. “It’s just plumes of smoke. It’s very scary.
No injuries were reported immediately.
The flames advanced even as fixed-wing planes dropped fire retardant on the hillside in hopes of slowing the progress of the flames. Several water-dropping helicopters were also used in firefighting.
Evacuations were ordered in the Coronado Pointe and Pacific Island Drive areas, while voluntary evacuation orders were issued in the Balboa Nyes and Moulton Meadows neighborhoods in Laguna Beach. Students participating in extracurricular activities at Laguna Beach High School were also evacuated, according to the school district.
MPs were asking residents of San Simeon, Sierra Vista, Alta Terra, Nucella, Serana, Avante, Tanarron, Teracina, Islands Avenue, Capri Court, Sunrisa Lane, Chapala Court, Arelu Court and Anamonte to evacuate. An evacuation center has been established at the Laguna Niguel Community Center at 28751 Crown Valley Parkway, Steinle said.