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Featured Image: Several fire and emergency response crews work to extinguish the roughly 200-acre Coastal Fire that threatened homes and prompted neighborhood evacuations in Laguna Niguel on Wednesday night, May 11. Photo: Courtesy of Orange County Fire Authority.

By Staff

UPDATE (1:05 p.m., Tuesday, May 17): The 200-acre Coastal Fire is now 100% contained, according to the Orange County Fire Authority public information office.

OCFA firefighters, along with other Orange County fire departments and CAL FIRE worked together to battle the vegetation fire that began in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.

Nine-hundred homes were evacuated over the course of the fire, which began on Wednesday, May 11. Twenty homes were destroyed and an additional 11 were damaged.

There have been no reported injuries to any residents or pets, OCFA officials said, and two firefighters who were injured while battling the blaze are recovering.

UPDATE (3:50 p.m., Friday, May 13): According to the City of Laguna Niguel, the mandatory evacuation zone has been “significantly reduced” from 900 homes to 131 homes.

UPDATE (10:40 a.m., Friday, May 13): The 200-acre Coastal Fire has been contained to 25%, the Orange County Fire Authority announced at 8:49 a.m. on Friday, May 13.

Twenty homes have been destroyed by the fire with an additional 11 homes damaged, according to OCFA.

According to OCFA’s public information office, 563 personnel have been assigned to the incident. As of 7:53 a.m. on Friday, OCFA reported that two firefighters have been injured. Both have been released from the hospital.

Residents with additional questions are encouraged to contact the 24-hour emergency operations center hotline at 714.628.7085.

UPDATE (11:00 a.m., Thursday, May 12): Several fire crews on Thursday, May 12, continued to battle the Coastal Fire that rapidly grew to a roughly 200-acre blaze the afternoon before, prompting neighborhood evacuations and road closures in parts of the neighboring Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach communities.

According to the Orange County Fire Authority, the fire started at around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, in the Aliso Woods Canyon area, between Laguna Beach and Laguna Niguel. The fire was initially identified by first responders as a roughly 3-acre vegetation fire before quickly spreading to homes amid strong winds.

TJ McGovern, chief of field operations for OCFA, told reporters Thursday morning that the Coastal Fire remained at about 200 acres and couldn’t provide information as far as containment, with crews working to make that assessment.

Several news outlets reported that about 20 homes had burned as a result of the ongoing fire.

McGovern said that OCFA had inspection crews evaluating the damaged homes in the impacted communities.

According to Capt. Virgil Asuncion with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, about 900 homes fall under the evacuation order, with road closures placed around those areas. He added that OCSD and OCFA will coordinate to determine when it’s safe for residents to return to the areas.

As of Thursday morning, the area north of the Flying Cloud Drive and Pacific Island Drive intersection up to the intersection of Highlands Avenue and Pacific Island Drive in Laguna Niguel remained under a mandatory evacuation.

Laguna Niguel neighborhoods south of Flying Cloud and Pacific Island and north of Pacific Island and Crown Valley Parkway—which borders the City of Dana Point—remained under a voluntary evacuation warning on Thursday morning.

At least one firefighter had been injured battling the blaze overnight, McGovern also noted during Thursday morning’s press conference. He said the firefighter was assessed and taken to a local hospital.

Orange County Board Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who represents much of South Orange County including the impacted areas, also spoke during Thursday’s press conference.

She said that following a conversation with fellow Supervisor Doug Chaffee, the current board chair, he has agreed to proclaim a local state of emergency on behalf of the county, and will work toward that process with state legislators including State Sen. Patricia Bates.

“I’m currently working with (Chaffee’s) office, the county staff and the Orange County Fire Authority to leverage all available resources, including any state and federal funding, to support the city and residents impacted by this tragedy,” Bartlett said.

UPDATE (9:30 p.m.): The Coastal Fire that was first reported as a 3-acre vegetation fire early Wednesday afternoon, May 11, in Aliso Woods Canyon quickly grew to about 200 acres, prompting mandatory evacuations in Laguna Niguel.

According to authorities, a mandatory evacuation order has been placed on Laguna Niguel neighborhoods north of the Flying Cloud Drive and Pacific Island Drive intersection up to the intersection of Highlands Avenue and Pacific Island Drive.

Neighborhoods south of Flying Cloud and Pacific Island and north of Pacific Island and Crown Valley Parkway—which borders the City of Dana Point—are currently under a voluntary evacuation warning.

About 20 homes had been burned during the fire’s rapid spread, fire officials told media outlets Wednesday evening.

Officials with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department also estimated that about 100 structures across the areas ordered to evacuate were potentially in the fire’s path.  

The Coastal Fire reportedly first broke out near the South Orange County Wastewater Authority’s Coastal Treatment Plant in Laguna Hills and quickly grew amid strong winds.

Smoking coming from the Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel stretched for miles into South Orange County on Wednesday, May 11. Photo: Norb Garrett

Fire crews are battling an approximately 3-acre vegetation fire in Aliso Woods Canyon, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

“We are in unified command with (the Laguna Beach Fire Department),” OCFA said in a tweet at 3:43 p.m. “We have heavy resources on the ground and in the air.”

Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away, in the South County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente.

Some neighborhoods in Laguna Niguel have been given an evacuation order, according to a tweet from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 4:35 p.m.

Members of OCFA Division 5, which serves Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, and Lake Forest, are on the scene, near the South Orange County Wastewater Authority’s Coastal Treatment Plant in Laguna Hills, according to PulsePoint, an emergency information app.

A call was first received at 2:43 p.m., according to PulsePoint.

This is a developing story.

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