A state of emergency has been declared in the city of Laguna Niguel, California, after a small brush fire that broke out on Wednesday quickly spread into 200 acres, burning large multi-million-dollar homes overlooking the Laguna Beach. Shocking video footage shows flames engulfing up to a dozen homes in the region as firefighters struggle to control the rapidly spreading wildfire.
According to Orange County Sheriff's Capt. Virgil Asuncion, the Coastal fire might affect about over 100 properties. The Ranch golf course and resort, as well as multimillion-dollar mansions on Coronado Pointe Drive, Vista Court, and Via Las Rosa, were also evacuated.
At least 12 homes were burnt to ashes as high winds fueled the wildfire in Laguna Niguel, not far from Laguna Beach in Orange County. According to ABC7, the Coastal Fire began at 2.44 p.m. local time near a water treatment facility between Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach and had expanded to over 200 acres by 8 p.m.
Thick black smoke could be seen rising from the burned ruins of large residences in Coronado Pointe. Videos on social media show multimillion-dollar homes up in flames as strong winds blew past.
The fire is being exacerbated by strong winds, which have swept through hiking routes in the hills and engulfed 20 homes in the elite enclave, where mansions typically sell for millions of dollars. The fire is not currently threatening Laguna Beach, but it is causing residents of Laguna Niguel to evacuate.
Residents in the Pacific Island Drive and Coronado Pointe areas were also asked to evacuate by Orange County Sheriff's officials at 4 p.m. Residents near Moulton Meadows and Balbo Nyes in Laguna Beach were also warned to be ready to escape at any time.
According to local real estate listings, some of the properties engulfed in the fire were worth between $3 and $5 million.
Videos on social media show a water-dropping helicopter on the site fighting the fire, with crews requesting a fixed-wing aircraft for assistance. Crews are aiming to saturate as many homes as possible with water in order to prevent embers from sparking and adding to the already raging fire.
The Crown Valley Community Center in Laguna Niguel has offered a makeshift shelter. As of now, authorities have not shared any information regarding how the fire originated.
The roof of a $6.6 million four-bedroom, seven-bathroom property at 35 Coronado Pointe had completely collapsed due to fire. Firefighters fought to rescue the walls as well as the surrounding properties.
Explosions were heard emanating from one house, which was thought to be munitions detonating.
As of 9 p.m. local time, no injuries have been reported. The Orange County Fire Authority's fire chief, Brian Fennessy, told ABC 7 Los Angeles news that his crew was attempting to save as many homes as possible.
"It's all about defending the homes that have not already burned," Fennessy said from the scene, adding, "The firefighters behind me are really putting on an aggressive fight."
At a press conference on Wednesday night, Fennessy said he expected winds to settle down after sunset, which would help limit the spread, and that there were no other big fires in Southern California, allowing firefighters to focus their resources on Laguna Niguel.