Santa Ana Winds Fuel Blaze In Laguna Beach
An unseasonable heat wave and gusty Santa Ana winds fueled a brush fire that prompted officials to issue a mandatory evacuation Thursday.
The Emerald Fire broke out around 4 a.m. in the wilderness area between Laguna Beach and the community of Emerald Bay. Within two hours strong Santa Ana winds had carried the blaze across 7 acres.
Dozens of Orange County sheriff’s deputies raced to neighborhoods to wake sleeping residents and urge them to leave. Deputies used loudspeakers and knocked on doors as the fire was raging.
“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,” he added.
February is traditionally the wettest month in California, but not so far this year, said Samantha Connolly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.
“We just don’t have that right now. We don’t even have a marine layer,” she said. “Everything is just really dry.”