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‘Flashes of Fire': At Least 20 Homes Burn in Laguna Niguel Coastal Fire

Residents remained under evacuation orders early Thursday after a brush fire fanned by ocean winds charged up a hillside and quickly burned at least 20 homes in a Laguna Niguel neighborhood.

The Coastal Fire burned nearly 200 acres after it started early Wednesday afternoon in Aliso Woods Canyon. There is no containment, but wind speeds are expected to decrease Thursday after 20- to 30-mph gusts pushed flames into the hilltop neighborhood.

At the base of Coronado Pointe, one of the evacuated areas, panicked families gathered as firefighters tried to slow flames and smoke darkened the sky.

“I saw flashes of fires just coming in my house and that’s the time I left with my wife,” said Abi Farsoni, who left his computer, and everything he owns. “It’s horrible for residents. You don’t know if your home is still there. We don’t know. I have a lot of things. I didn’t have time to take them.”

He later found out his home was still standing.

Flames reached several multimillion-dollar estates on a hillside overlooking the ocean. It was only a matter of minutes before many were destroyed by the relentless fire.

“This entire street is chaotic, right now,” said resident Carson Williams.

Water-dropping aircraft were part of the fight to keep flames from spreading.

Details about how the fire started were not immediately available. Southern California Edison reported possible “circuit activity” at about the time the fire started Wednesday afternoon. NBCLA has reached out to the utility for details.

Evacuations were ordered in the Coronado Pointe and Pacific Island Drive areas, while voluntary evacuation orders were issued in the Balboa Nyes and Moulton Meadows neighborhoods in Laguna Beach. Students taking part in after-school activities at Laguna Beach High School were also evacuated, according to the school district.

The area is between Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel. Smoke could be seen for miles along the Orange and Los Angeles county coasts.

Deputies were asking residents on San Simeon, Sierrra Vista, Alta Terra, Nucella, Serana, Avante, Tanarron, Teracina, Islands Avenue, Capri Court, Sunrisa Lane, Chapala Court, Arelu Court and Anamonte to evacuate.

An evacuation center was established at the Laguna Niguel Community Center at 28751 Crown Valley Parkway, Steinle said.

Check here for an interactive map of evacuations, road closures and shelters for the Coastal Fire in Orange County.

A smoke advisory was issued Thursday for parts of the area.

The U.S. West is facing mega-drought that has left hillsides covered in dry brush that provides fuel for wildfires. California is coming off one of it driest winters on record, adding to concerns about how quickly brush fires can spread, especially in windy conditions.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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