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Coastal fire holds at 200 acres overnight, containment uncertain after 20-plus homes burned

A once-fast-moving brush fire in Laguna Niguel remained at 200 acres overnight, as crews continued to work to protect homes and establish containment lines, authorities said in a Thursday morning, May 12, briefing.

Fire crews did not have a number yet for containment, but Assistant Chief TJ McGovern of the Orange County Fire Authority said firefighters “engaged in perimeter control and structure defense (and) worked aggressively during the night to continue to do those functions.”

The agency’s chief, Brian Fennessy, has said about 20 homes in Laguna Niguel had burned. Damage-assessment teams were out in the neighborhoods Thursday trying to drill down on what has been damaged or destroyed.

One firefighter was injured while battling the blaze and hospitalized Wednesday, McGovern said, with the extent of the injuries not disclosed.

About 900 homes remained under evacation orders, with roads blocked off. The assistant chief said residents were real good about getting out of the area, allowing firefighters to do their work.

Deputies are combing the area, sheriff’s Capt. Virgil Asuncion said, to provide safety to residents and to deter any attempted burglaries.

The Fire Authority has received help from the Laguna Beach Fire Department as well as other city fire agencies in Orange County, McGovern said. Cal Fire has also provided air and ground resources, including helicopters and planes.

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The fire was first reported just before 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, in Aliso Woods Canyon and quickly moved up steep terrain. When firefighters arrived, the blaze had consumed about an acre, McGovern said.

Two hours later, flames had crossed an access road and moved toward homes. By 7:30 p.m., 20 had burned.

The fire’s cause was under investigation.

Southern California Edison, in a report, said, “SCE submits this report out of an abundance of caution as it involves an event that may meet the subject of significant public attention and/or (a) media-coverage reporting requirement.  … Our information reflects circuit activity occurring close in time to the reported time of the fire. Our investigation is ongoing.”

But the utility has provided no context of what that means. The Southern California News Group has requested elaboration of that statement.

A temporary shelter remained open for affected residents at Crown Valley Community Center on Crown Valley Parkway. The Mission Viejo Animal Services shelter was assisting with pet evacuations.

Evacuation warnings in Laguna Beach were lifted late Wednesday night as the fire continued moving away from that city.

Mandatory evacuation orders were in place for areas north of the intersection of Flying Cloud Drive and Pacific Island Drive, to Highlands Avenue and Pacific Island Drive, the OCFA said.

Voluntary evacuation warnings were in place for areas south of Flying Cloud and Pacific Island to Crown Valley Parkway.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday morning that funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was granted to help with fighting the Coastal fire. That funding will allow responding agencies to apply for 75% reimbursement of eligible fire-suppression costs.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.


Source: Orange County Register

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