A wildfire in a residential area of California has destroyed over a dozen homes Wednesday evening, local authorities said. The Coastal Fire, which broke out in the brush in Aliso Wood Canyon between Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach just before 3 p.m. local time, has so far scorched around 200 acres and is 0% contained.
No injuries have been reported at this time, according to fire officials. Officials did not know what caused the fire to ignite as of Wednesday evening.
The fire started as a 50 by 50 feet vegetating fire. It soon increased to a 3-acre blaze before growing to 30 and then 200 acres within just a few hours. When fire crews first arrived, strong winds were blowing the flames in a “easterly and north direction,” fire officials said Wednesday night. As of 7:30 p.m. local time, fire officials said they estimated around 20 residential structures had been destroyed, but said they would have a more accurate assessment Thursday morning.
Officials said the steep terrain in the area was making it difficult to run hose lines and get ground crews to the areas where vegetation was burning.
Fixed-wing planes were used to drop fire retardant on the hillside where the fire began, in hopes of slowing the advance of the flames CBS Los Angeles reports. Water-dropping helicopters and airtankers were also being used to battle the blaze, according to CBS Los Angeles.
“What we saw today is not something we’re used to seeing this time of year, or even in these types of conditions,” Orange County Fire Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said Wednesday evening. “We continue to talk about a fire year. This is another prime example of that. The winds we experienced today are normal winds. Very strong winds off the coast, up the slope. The big difference is the vegetation in our canyons here in Southern California, throughout the West, is so dry, that it is not taking much … the fuel moister is so low that those fires are taking off and running on us.”
“Unfortunately I believe this is what we’re going to be experiencing over the next several months, over the next several years,” Fennessy added.
Several evacuation orders are in place, as well as voluntary evacuations, CBS Los Angeles reports. Orange County Sheriff’s Capt. Virgil Asuncion said roads leading to the area where the fire was burning have been closed, and officials believe there are roughly 100 buildings in that area.
Students at Laguna Beach High School were evacuated from their after-school activities.
Laguna Niguel Mayor Elaine Gennawey said that 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 homes earlier in the day. Fire officials also at one point reported hearing what they believed was ammunition exploding in one of the houses that had caught fire.
Video shared on social media showed massive plumes of smoke.
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