A smoke advisory remains in effect for a swath of Orange County through Thursday afternoon as crews work to get a handle on the destructive Coastal fire that has destroyed at least 20 homes in Laguna Niguel.
In its initial advisory issued Wednesday, officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District said that “air quality is not expected to degrade beyond moderate, except in areas close to the fire, where unhealthy conditions may be possible for several hours.”
Officials did say that “additional portions of south Orange County may also be affected by smoke.”
“If you smell smoke or see ash due to a wildfire, limit your exposure by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed or seeking alternate shelter, and avoiding vigorous physical activity,” air quality officials wrote in the alert.
Additional tips are available at aqmd.gov/home/air-quality/wildfire-health-info-smoke-tips.
In Laguna Niguel, thick smoke still choked the Coronado Pointe neighborhood Thursday morning. Ash rained down on cars parked in driveways and on trash cans that had been left along the curb.
Firefighters were continuing to spray down homes, many of which had been completely destroyed but were still smoldering inside.
“Everyone should take precautions to stay cool and drink plenty of water to reduce health risks related to the heat and wildfire smoke,” Orange County Health Officer Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong said in a statement. “Additional precautions are especially needed for older adults, those with preexisting medical conditions like heart or lung disease, those with disabilities, children, and those who may be working outdoors.”
The Coastal fire has grown to roughly 200 acres since igniting Wednesday afternoon in a canyon near the Pacific Ocean.
Information on containment was not immediately available Thursday morning. An estimated 900 homes have been evacuated.
The cause of the wind-whipped wildfire remains under investigation. Southern California Edison issued an initial report to state regulators Wednesday saying that “our information reflects circuit activity occurring close in time to the reported time of the fire,” but no other details were provided.
“Our thoughts are with the community members whose homes have been damaged and those who were evacuated because of the Coastal fire, and we’re coordinating with fire agencies as needed to ensure firefighter safety,” said David Song, a spokesman for the utility.
Song said Edison’s report — which is required for certain types of events — is intended to put the California Public Utilities Commission “on notice of an incident, so that it can conduct its own investigation.”