Evacuations Finally Lifted for Aliso Fire

Firefighters made advances on Saturday night and managed to calm the flames into Sunday afternoon and evening.

A brush fire in Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo had been reduced to 150 acres with all evacuation orders lifted for Laguna Beach on Sunday evening.

The wind-driven Aliso Fire was 40 percent contained and at 150 acres as of approximately 6:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

Mandatory evacuation orders were lifted for Aliso Viejo around 9 p.m. Saturday, but around 300 homes and 600 residents remained evacuated as of around 10:20 a.m. Sunday, including residents in the Top of the World neighborhood of Laguna Beach, the Laguna Beach Police Department said.

Residents on the west or ocean side of Alta Laguna Boulevard were allowed to return to their homes as of 8 a.m., said Laguna Beach Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock.

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"Although it doesn't seem like it's an active firefight right now, it actually is because there is the potential for growth," Orange County All Hazard Incident Team Capt. Thanh Nguyen said on Sunday morning, adding that afternoon winds could cause the fire to grow once again and that the scorching heat could pose a challenge to firefighters in full uniform.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case, as firefighters made progress and allowed residents to return home before sunset.

At one point, the fire forced mandatory evacuations of 2,145 homes and quickly grew to more than 250 acres on Saturday afternoon. The fire was first reported shortly after 1 p.m. and quickly grew from an original half-acre.

It burned in the Aliso Woods Canyon behind Soka University, the Orange County Fire Authority said. The blaze encompassed parts of both Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo and forced evacuations in both communities.

The rapid growth of the fire was best illustrated when it more than doubled from 70 acres at approximately 4 p.m. to 150 acres at approximately 5 p.m. with zero percent containment, per the Laguna Beach Police Department.

At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, the fire had burned 200 acres, and the Orange County Fire Authority updated that the fire had grown to more than 250 acres at approximately 6:30 p.m.

Residents in the Top of the World neighborhood all the way to Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach were evacuated as more than 400 firefighters battled flames.

Two firefighters were slightly injured in the firefight, Nguyen said, with one being taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure and the other being pulled from the fire line.

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