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SoCal Edison probes cause of Coastal Fire that tore homes

Southern California Edison has told state utility regulators that unspecified electrical “circuit activity” happened at about the time that a wildfire sparked near the coastal city of Laguna Niguel.The Coastal Fire was reported Wednesday afternoon in a canyon between Laguna Niguel and the neighboring city of Laguna Beach, Orange County Fire Authority Assistant Chief T.J. McGovern told reporters. SoCal Edison made the report about the circuit activity Wednesday evening.Southern California Edison said the company made the notification to the California Public Utilities Commission “out of an abundance of caution” because the incident may meet reporting requirements.”Our information reflects circuit activity occurring close in time to the reported time of the fire. Our investigation is ongoing,” the utility said.Various utilities’ electrical equipment has repeatedly been linked to the ignition of disastrous California wildfires, especially during windy weather.The state Public Utilities Commission last year approved a settlement placing more than half a billion dollars in fines and penalties for Southern California Edison for its role in five wildfires in 2017 and 2018.Coastal Fire ActivityAs of Thursday afternoon, the fire burned 200 acres and is 15% contained. The Orange County Fire Authority said the next two days will be hotter and drier, which will impact crews’ efforts in containing the fire.With fully containing the fire, that does not necessarily mean the fire itself is fully out. The actual flames can be extinguished before the fire is fully contained. Containment itself refers to a barrier, whether it be natural or manmade, that prevents a wildfire from spreading. Manmade barriers can refer to trenches dug up by crews or by heavy machinery such as dozers.Natural barriers can include, rivers, roads and land already burned from previous fires. When a fire is fully contained, it becomes highly unlikely that flames can spread outside of those containment lines, but extreme wildfire behavior in recent years has shown instances where that could happen.Once a fire is 100% contained, hot spots may linger that will put up smoke for days, weeks or even months after a fire is extinguished. After the main threat is put out, crews will spend time mopping up to make sure flare-ups don’t happen.The Orange County Fire Authority said 20 homes were destroyed and 11 more were damaged. On Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson said the assessment of damages to homes was complete, signaling that it’s unlikely any other houses were damaged or destroyed.Watch a Thursday morning briefing from fire officials in the video below:The fire burned uphill toward luxury homes lining ridges with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. The National Weather Service reported winds on the coast ranged from 34 mph to 38 mph (55-61 kph) between 3 and 6 p.m. while the fire was raging.The fire’s cause was under investigation and damage inspections were still ongoing on Thursday, McGovern said.Two firefighters were injured in relation to the fire, but the Orange County Fire Authority said both have since been treated and released.Plumes of smoke rose from the gutted ruins of the burned homes on Thursday but others nearby appeared untouched by Wednesday’s fire. Sassan Darian, 38, sat on a curb watching firefighters douse the remains of his father’s five-bedroom home and recounted how he, his daughter and his father fled as winds blasted flames toward them and embers fell on them and around them.”The sky, everything was orange. It looked like an inferno, so we just jumped in the car,” he said. “My daughter said, ‘We’re on fire.’ There were sparks on her and we were patting ourselves down.”Coastal Fire EvacuationsAbout 900 homes remain under evacuation orders. Fire officials are asking evacuated residents to be patient about when they could return home, because they want to avoid having to re-issue evacuation orders in case a flare-up happens.According to the Orange County Fire Authority, the area north of Flying Cloud and Pacific Island drives to Highlands Avenue and Pacific Island Drive is under a mandatory evacuation order.The area south of Flying Cloud and Pacific Island drives to Pacific Island Drive and Crown Valley Parkway is under an evacuation warning, the fire authority said.When a mandatory evacuation order is issued, that means there is a legitimate threat to safety. That is the time to leave the area immediately, taking only essential valuables with you. With evacuation warnings, residents are not yet required to leave but should be cautious and ready to leave at a moment’s notice.People in Laguna Niguel are urged to sign up for emergency alerts at www.alertoc.com and register for Nixle by texting: 92677 to 888-777.You can see real-time evacuation areas here.| RELATED | 2022 California Wildfire Preparedness Guide: What to know and how to stay safe___Antczak reported from Los Angeles.KCRA 3 contributed to this reporting.

Southern California Edison has told state utility regulators that unspecified electrical “circuit activity” happened at about the time that a wildfire sparked near the coastal city of Laguna Niguel.

The Coastal Fire was reported Wednesday afternoon in a canyon between Laguna Niguel and the neighboring city of Laguna Beach, Orange County Fire Authority Assistant Chief T.J. McGovern told reporters. SoCal Edison made the report about the circuit activity Wednesday evening.

Southern California Edison said the company made the notification to the California Public Utilities Commission “out of an abundance of caution” because the incident may meet reporting requirements.

“Our information reflects circuit activity occurring close in time to the reported time of the fire. Our investigation is ongoing,” the utility said.

Various utilities’ electrical equipment has repeatedly been linked to the ignition of disastrous California wildfires, especially during windy weather.

The state Public Utilities Commission last year approved a settlement placing more than half a billion dollars in fines and penalties for Southern California Edison for its role in five wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

Coastal Fire Activity

As of Thursday afternoon, the fire burned 200 acres and is 15% contained. The Orange County Fire Authority said the next two days will be hotter and drier, which will impact crews’ efforts in containing the fire.

With fully containing the fire, that does not necessarily mean the fire itself is fully out. The actual flames can be extinguished before the fire is fully contained. Containment itself refers to a barrier, whether it be natural or manmade, that prevents a wildfire from spreading. Manmade barriers can refer to trenches dug up by crews or by heavy machinery such as dozers.

Natural barriers can include, rivers, roads and land already burned from previous fires. When a fire is fully contained, it becomes highly unlikely that flames can spread outside of those containment lines, but extreme wildfire behavior in recent years has shown instances where that could happen.

Once a fire is 100% contained, hot spots may linger that will put up smoke for days, weeks or even months after a fire is extinguished. After the main threat is put out, crews will spend time mopping up to make sure flare-ups don’t happen.

The Orange County Fire Authority said 20 homes were destroyed and 11 more were damaged. On Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson said the assessment of damages to homes was complete, signaling that it’s unlikely any other houses were damaged or destroyed.

Watch a Thursday morning briefing from fire officials in the video below:

The fire burned uphill toward luxury homes lining ridges with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. The National Weather Service reported winds on the coast ranged from 34 mph to 38 mph (55-61 kph) between 3 and 6 p.m. while the fire was raging.

The fire’s cause was under investigation and damage inspections were still ongoing on Thursday, McGovern said.

Two firefighters were injured in relation to the fire, but the Orange County Fire Authority said both have since been treated and released.

Plumes of smoke rose from the gutted ruins of the burned homes on Thursday but others nearby appeared untouched by Wednesday’s fire.

Sassan Darian, 38, sat on a curb watching firefighters douse the remains of his father’s five-bedroom home and recounted how he, his daughter and his father fled as winds blasted flames toward them and embers fell on them and around them.

“The sky, everything was orange. It looked like an inferno, so we just jumped in the car,” he said. “My daughter said, ‘We’re on fire.’ There were sparks on her and we were patting ourselves down.”

Coastal Fire Evacuations

About 900 homes remain under evacuation orders. Fire officials are asking evacuated residents to be patient about when they could return home, because they want to avoid having to re-issue evacuation orders in case a flare-up happens.

According to the Orange County Fire Authority, the area north of Flying Cloud and Pacific Island drives to Highlands Avenue and Pacific Island Drive is under a mandatory evacuation order.

The area south of Flying Cloud and Pacific Island drives to Pacific Island Drive and Crown Valley Parkway is under an evacuation warning, the fire authority said.

When a mandatory evacuation order is issued, that means there is a legitimate threat to safety. That is the time to leave the area immediately, taking only essential valuables with you. With evacuation warnings, residents are not yet required to leave but should be cautious and ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

People in Laguna Niguel are urged to sign up for emergency alerts at www.alertoc.com and register for Nixle by texting: 92677 to 888-777.

You can see real-time evacuation areas here.

| RELATED | 2022 California Wildfire Preparedness Guide: What to know and how to stay safe

___

Antczak reported from Los Angeles.

KCRA 3 contributed to this reporting.

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