Crews battled a fast-spreading wildfire overnight off Los Angeles that authorities estimated had destroyed more than 20 expensive homes and forced evacuations.. The fire, already dubbed the Coastal Fire, broke out in the bush between the towns of Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach just before 3 p.m. local time and quickly spread to residential areas.
Just after 6 a.m. Thursday, the fire engulfed an estimated 199 acres, according to the Orange County Fire Authority said on Twitter. There was zero containment.
No injuries were reported.
The cause was not known, but Southern California Edison said it had reported “circuit activity” to state officials in the area where the fire broke out when it broke out.
Officials said the blazes started as a 50-by-50-foot vegetation bonfire but grew in a hurry, aided by ocean winds, and was advancing toward the expensive hilltop lots overlooking the Pacific. At least five multimillion dollar homes were burned. One was a mansion listed for $10 million.
Officials said the steep terrain in the area made it difficult to run hose lines and get ground crew to where they needed to be. Fixed-wing aircraft, dropping fire-retardant and water-shedding helicopters, were used.
“We have the entire area focused on this fire right now to ensure we have every fire engine in the area available to put out this fire,” Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said.
Orange County Fire Department Chief Brian Fennessy said during a Wednesday night news conference, “Unfortunately, over the next few weeks and years, I think we’re going to see that fires get going and burn very quickly.”
Laguna Beach High School students were evacuated from their after-school activities.
Laguna Niguel Mayor Elaine Gennawey said 25 adults, two children and five pets were waiting at an evacuation center Wednesday night.
reports that a cat was rescued from one of the houses earlier in the day.
Firefighters also said they heard ammunition exploding in one of the burning houses.
Video shared on social media showed massive plumes of smoke.