Laguna Beach fire destroys more than 20 homes

Crews battled a fast-moving wildfire outside Los Angeles overnight that authorities say destroyed more than 20 high-priced homes and forced evacuations. CBS Los Angeles reports. The fire, now dubbed The Coastal Fire, broke out in the brush between the cities of Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach just before 3 pm local time and quickly spread to residential areas.

As of 11 p.m., the fire was estimated to have engulfed 195 acres. There was no contention.

No injuries were reported.

The cause is unknown, but Southern California Edison revealed that it had told state officials about “loop activity” in the area where the fire broke out.

Officials said the flames started as a 50-by-50-foot vegetation fire but grew rapidly, aided by winds from the ocean, and advanced toward properties on hillsides overlooking the Pacific. At least five multi-million dollar homes were burned. One was a mansion listed for $10 million.

California wildfires
Firefighters work to put out flames during a wildfire on May 11, 2022 in Laguna Niguel, California.

Marcio J. Sanchez / AP

Authorities said the area’s steep terrain made it difficult to get hose lines and ground crews where they needed to be. Fixed-wing aircraft dropping fire retardants and helicopters dropping water were being used.

“We have the entire region focused on this fire right now to make sure we have every fire truck available in the area to put it out,” Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said.

Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said during a news conference Wednesday night that, “Unfortunately, I think this is what we’re going to experience for the next few weeks and years. The vegetation is so dry that it’s not taking long for the fire to take off running and burn very quickly.”

Laguna Beach High School students were evacuated from their extracurricular activities.

California wildfires
A firefighter works to extinguish the flames of a wildfire on May 11, 2022 in Laguna Niguel, California.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Laguna Niguel Mayor Elaine Gennawey said 25 adults, two children and five pets were waiting at an evacuation center Wednesday night.

CBS Los Angeles reports that a cat was rescued from one of the houses earlier in the day.

Firefighters also reported hearing what they believed to be munitions exploding in one of the houses that was on fire.

Video shared on social media showed huge plumes of smoke.

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