Brush Fire Burns in Laguna Beach Area – NBC Los Angeles

on Feb10
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A brush fire pushed by strong winds forced evacuations early Thursday in coastal Orange County communities, but firefighters have protected homes as flames appear to be moving into open space.

The fire, estimated at about 10 acres, was reported around 4 a.m. on a hillside above Emerald Bay. Flames and smoke could be seen from Long Beach and other parts of Southern California.

An evacuation order was issued for Irvine Cove and Emerald Bay. An evacuation warning was in effect for North Laguna.

No homes have been damaged thanks to firefighters on the ground and a barrage of overnight runs from water-dropping aircraft. Orange County fire officials said they are optimistic that the fire will burn away from the area, allowing firefighters to hold flames along a ridge line away from neighborhoods.

Fire retardant will be dropped along the ridge line to halt the fire’s spread.

“We met it with a very robust response,” said Orange Count Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy. “If we ask you to evacuate, please evacuate.”

Emerald Bay is an unincorporated area of Orange County. The fire was pushed north by wind along the northern edge of a residential area. 

“We got lucky in that regard,” Fennessy said. “I’m pretty confident right now, as long as the weather cooperates.

A map shows evacuations due to a brush fire Feb. 10, 2022 in the Laguna Beach area.

“The bulk of the fir is away from the structures.”

Fennessy said at one point there was a fire engine in front of almost every home in the Emerald Bay area. There are no other major brush fires currently burning in the region.

The last time the area burned was in 1993, when hundreds of homes burned. At the time it was one of the most damaging fires on record in California. Fifteen of the state’s 20 most-damaging fires have burned within the last seven years. 

Smoke rises from the burned out ruins of homes along Skyline Boulevard in Laguna Beach in October 1993 after the wildfire hit the area. (Photo credit should read VINCE BUCCI/AFP via Getty Images)

Details about how Thrusday’s fire started were not immediately available 

Spot fires were reported due to wind-strewn embers landing in dry brush.

“This wind is still howling,” Fennessy said. “It’s really heading out into a more open area.”

An evacuation center was opened at Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center, and at the Los Olivos Community Center in Irvine.

Pacific Coast Highway was shut down in Laguna Beach from Ledroit Street to Newport Beach at Reef Point Drive.

All classes in the Laguna Beach Unified School District were canceled.

Strong Santa Ana winds, notorious for fanning brush fire flames, are in the Thursday forecast. A high wind warning was issued for parts of Southern California, including coastal Orange County.

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