Remembering Laguna's Inferno
October 27, 2018, marks the 25th anniversary of a fire that will live in infamy. Although it was labeled an Orange County District Fire it devastated our city leaving 441 houses in ruins and 44 mobile homes at El Morro Trailer Park. It burned 14,337 acres amassing $528,000,000 in damages and untold loss to our wildlife. The only good news was out of the 1,198 fire personnel that fought to contain it, thankfully, not a single life was lost. To this day it remains an unsolved crime started by an arsonist.
The fire ignited at approx. 11:50am and made its way from Emerald Canyon to Canyon Acres, over to Skyline and Mystic Hills and El Morro and Temple Hills. It was burning 100 acres per minute and although it took only 14 minutes for firefighters to respond, the Santa Ana winds swept the flames at enormous speeds from one hillside to the next. Air tankers did not arrive until 90 minutes later which could have made a big difference. Soon after the disaster, two water-dropping helicopters were stationed nearby to deploy in seconds and two water reservoirs were built at higher elevations. By 10pm the winds changed direction and the fire
was declared contained by midnight but the devastation was felt for years and lives were changed forever.
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Photos and facts courtesy of Gene Felder