Environment & Science

Fire near Laguna Beach almost extinguished

File: Residents use bicycles to get close enough for a good look a raging fire in nearby Laguna Beach On Oct. 28, 1993, shortly before their neighborhood was evacuated.
File: Residents use bicycles to get close enough for a good look a raging fire in nearby Laguna Beach On Oct. 28, 1993, shortly before their neighborhood was evacuated.
Denis Poroy/AFP/Getty Images

A blaze that broke out Sunday in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, northeast of Laguna Beach, is almost fully contained — but efforts to combat the fire aren’t any less serious.

At the height of the fire there were about 130 firefighters, but on Tuesday morning there were only approximately 30 on the scene, Larry Kurtz with the Orange County Fire Authority told KPCC.

Laguna Fire Tracker

Although it didn’t cause as much devastation as other nearby fires in Kern County or San Gabriel, the area hasn’t been left unattended, he said.

“We want to be absolutely certain that when we walk away from this fire, there will be no chance of it reigniting,” Kurtz said.

With only a small portion of the fire left to smother, the rocky uneven grounds have delayed the process. Kurtz said that he hopes it will be completely extinguished within 24 hours.

The small group of firefighters have created a 2- to 5-foot-wide break around the perimeter of the blaze to prevent it from spreading. The boundary looks a lot like a dirt road —  all brush or any sort of fuel for the fire is removed, he said.

“People who come into the area, they’re not going to see any real smoke, they’re not going to see any flames,” Kurtz said. “But what they are going to see is our hand crews continuing to build the firebreak.”

Crews are also patrolling inside of the fire perimeter to make sure there aren’t any hot spots. One thing they look out for: large trees — the roots deep in the ground can retain heat like a thermos does, he said, which can then reignite.

Apart from these efforts, Kurtz said there are things that residents can do at home to reduce the risk of your home catching on fire.

Fuel modification is the most important, he said. By clearing any dry vegetation with a 100-foot perimeter around your home, the fire is less likely to bring it down.  

“That’s probably one of those most effective ways to defend your home against wildfire,” he said.  

Another precaution worthy of consideration: installing mesh over all vents in your home to stop embers from being blown inside.  

The last time this area burned was in 1993. A lot of that brush has grown back over the years, Kurtz said, which is always a concern.