Evacuations were ordered as at least 20 homes burned in a Laguna Niguel neighborhood where a wildfire fanned by ocean winds scorched a brush-covered hillside.
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.
Thursday Updates: Firefighters Continue to Battle Coastal Fire
At the base of Coronado Pointe, panicked families gathered, desperate for answers.
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"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.
The fire was reported at 2:44 p.m., Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Sean Doran said. The fire grew to 200 acres by 6 p.m.
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Flames reached several multimillion-dollar estates on a hillside overlooking the ocean.
Water-dropping aircraft were part of the fight against the Coastal Fire in Aliso Woods Canyon.
Details about how the fire started were not immediately available.
The fire is burning below a neighborhood at the top of the canyon. As flames climbed the canyon wall, thick smoke drifted over the neighborhood.
The fire tore through thick brush as it burned uphill toward Aliso Summit Trail and the neighboring homes.
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.