Updated at 10:08 p.m. PT Feb. 10, 2022
Thursday morning firefighters stopped the spread of the 145-acre Emerald Fire northwest of Laguna Beach in Southern California. At the peak of activity there were 220 personnel assigned, plus numerous helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
All of the evacuation orders were lifted at 3 p.m. and no structures were destroyed. Areas in the interior of the fire are still burning, fire officials said Thursday afternoon, and the predicted hot, dry weather means they will have to continue to monitor, mop up, and improve containment.
The last time the area burned was during the Laguna Fire of 1993 which covered 14,337 acres, enveloping almost the entirety of Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Area.
A spokesperson for the fire said good clearance of vegetation around the homes made it much easier for firefighters to prevent any structures from burning.
Fire personnel will be on scene Thursday night and fresh troops will arrive Friday morning.
1:04 p.m. PT Feb. 10, 2022
Evacuation orders for the Emerald Fire prompted hundreds of residents in Laguna Beach in Orange County, California to leave their homes before dawn Thursday. Reported at about 4 a.m. in the Laguna Coast Wilderness Area, strong winds pushed the blaze near homes in the Emerald Bay in the coastal city.
As the fire was spreading, a weather station at Moro Canyon recorded 15 to 22 mph winds gusting out of the north-northeast up to 43 mph while the relative humidity was 31 percent. Those conditions are conducive to rapid fire spread and would have pushed the fire to the south-southwest. When the winds subsided later in the morning firefighters were able to stop the spread. Preliminary estimates put the size at about 140 acres, but that could change with more accurate mapping.
“We no longer have a fire season. We have a fire year,” said Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy in a news conference Thursday morning. “It’s February 10. This is supposed to be the middle of winter and we’re anticipating 80 to 90 degree weather. Even though the hillsides are green it doesn’t take but low humidity and wind to cause fires to occur. If this is any sign of what’s to come throughout the rest of the winter and spring we’re in for a long year.”
Two weather advisories are in effect for much of Southern California on Thursday, including the Emerald Fire area; one is for wind and another for heat. The forecast for the Laguna Beach area for Thursday morning called for northeast winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 45. The heat advisory predicted high afternoon temperatures of 91 degrees.
— michele gile (@michelegiletv) February 10, 2022
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Jim.