Residents see fire consuming Laguna Niguel community

Sonia Moser, 52, stood on her patio, staring up at the sky for about 3 p.m., helicopters whirring above her home in the golf course community of El Niguel Country Club.

She first smelled the smoke and came out of her house to see the fire growing rapidly. The wind has since appeared to have changed direction, blowing smoke to the east. Just in case there was an evacuation order in his area, Moser packed his things.

She said she had friends closer to the fire who have already been evacuated from their homes. Fire planes have been flying between the blaze and the golf course since the blaze began, picking up water from its lake to take to the fire.

“I am standing on my terrace. I see a bunch of smoke and helicopters and planes flying – big, thick black smoke,” she said.

She could see flames, “like an orange glow”, on the ridge in the distance. “We have the TV on, and I go out to see the fire and come in to see the news. I feel bad for these families. It’s just devastating.

The fire had passed through the community, destroying at least 20 miles in the Coronado Pointe area. No injuries were reported.

At approximately 5:30 p.m., Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies marched down Via Estoril announcing over the loudspeaker, “There’s a fire coming. Clear out.”

Kevin Kothlow has decided to stay.

Kothlow, who works with Team Rubicon, an organization that specializes in disaster response, had training in fire mitigation and thought her skills would be best used to watch her home and the homes of her neighbours. He took out the garden hoses and made sure the area was prepared for the firefighters.

He also berated one of his neighbors for turning on the sprinklers, he said, because it just takes the water pressure away from the fire department hoses.

“I can see the winds blowing through the canyon, but the winds on my side of the hill have gone down,” Kothlow said. “I’m watching the weather and at 9 tonight it’s down to 7 miles per hour so I think we’ll be good by then. I’m just waiting to see what happens.

Kothlow could smell the fire before he saw it.

“I went to the top of the Pacific Island [Drive], and I could see the fire burning in the canyon. The fire was getting stronger and the smoke was getting thicker and thicker,” Kothlow said.

He walked down a trail near Coronado Pointe and watched the fire climb the hill. The smoke was so thick that Kothlow could barely see the sun.

“He literally ran up the hill,” he said. “I saw him hit the palm trees, and as soon as I saw that, I knew those houses were gone. You could see embers blowing in the air.




Los Angeles Times

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