Orange County fires: Wind destroys steep terrain, dry vegetation

Several homes are on fire in the Orange County coastal city of Laguna Niguel. (KTLA)


Wednesday at 11 pm,Orange CountyIn the coastal city of Laguna Niguel, houses were set on fire and at least 20 homes were destroyed. Temperatures were moderate along the coast of Orange County, the air was relatively humid, and weather conditions were acceptable, but it was still a large area of ​​bushfires, which alarmed government officials and investigated the cause.

Video Source: KTLA, Reporter Qin Zuyi Post-Production

Experts say that initial reports suggest that the damage was caused by several factors. Local homes were built before fire-resistant building codes were implemented, and moderate winds, steep terrain and drought-ravaged vegetation were all major factors in the fire.


Orange County Fire Department spokesman Sean Doran said firefighters arrived within minutes when the fire started on a hill west of the South Orange County Westwater Authority, but the fire had spread to at least an acre.

He said firefighters struggled up the hill with tools to make two sides, in hopes of getting the fire under control. However, a sea breeze blew the fire down the mountain and began to spread east.San DiegoAccording to the National Weather Service, winds gusted to 25 mph around 4 p.m. The fire then engulfed the hills east of the treatment plant, destroying grass and shrubs. Doran said the wind-driven flames continued to move west, causing intense heat and the flames intensifying.

OCFA chief Brian Fennessy said a prolonged drought and limited rainfall had killed the bushes on the slopes. Even though the fire started at 70 percent humidity, even normal coastal winds started the fire because the fuel moisture was so low.

Santa BarbaraUniversity of CaliforniaHomes act as heavy fuel, releasing a lot of heat and embers, and due to the presence of synthetic chemical treatments, they can burn even hotter, making it difficult for firefighters to control, says Max Moritz, a UC Wildfire Cooperative Extension Specialist said Brain College of the fire.

“You can think of a house as many big trees, so it can take a long time for a house to actually burn down. When that happens, it gives off a lot of heat, and it burns a lot.” produces embers, these embers could fly into the air and set nearby buildings on fire.”

The effect is heightened when homes are in close proximity, said Krystal Kolden, professor of fire science at the University of California, Merced. In this type of fire, homes are often built in the burning area before modern building codes were implemented.

Chapter 7A of the California Building Code prohibits new dwellings built in significant areas with specific fire hazards, including the use of non-combustible materials on roofs, siding, and eaves; attic vent to prevent embers from entering the house; and double-layer steel glass windows. The rule, which went into effect in 2008, only applies to new buildings, but does not require owners to retrofit.

University of California Orange County San Diego


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